The last book I recommended was Wizard’s First Rule which is a wonderful book in its own right but what makes the Sword of Truth Series great is the collections of philosophical themes which are explicitly stated as Wizard’s Rules. Stone of Tears, while still one of the better books in the series as it follows the growth of main character Richard Rahl into becoming a wizard. It has certain aspects of a bildungroman, a story of growing up, and certainly all the trappings of good high-fantasy (battles against ultimate evil, sword fights, a talking dragon, you know the deal)…but as “People are Stupid” made Wizard’s First Rule more than just a fantasy book, Stone of Tears is more than just a fantasy novel because of Wizard’s Second Rule:
“The greatest harm can result from the best intentions. Kindness and good intentions can be an insidious path to destruction. Sometimes doing what seems right is wrong, and can cause harm. The only counter to it is knowledge, wisdom, forethought, and understanding the First Rule. Even then, that is not always enough.”
Or if you have any understanding of politics or economics, this is called the Law of Unintended Consequences.
Why is this important?
Well, just look at the people who don’t heed this basic rule…that is the Democratic Party. They do lots of things, because they want to make the world a better place…but they never seem to ask will this make the world a better place, is there any reason to believe this will work, are there any facts to prove that this will work? No, they just feel and want to do something. To hell with reality. They have good intentions.
Welfare. Let’s help the underprivileged. To hell if there is a reason why most people who have low incomes actually have low incomes. To hell if they choose to have children out of wedlock early in life, not get an education, or cultivate an air of laziness. No let’s just throw money at them. Yes let’s subsidize bad behavior and give it out indiscriminately. Whereas church and private charity would hold people to standards and encourage them pull themselves out, welfare encourages the worst behaviors in society and has destroyed the lower classes of this nation and wrecked the possibility for having a country made entirely of a middle class. But we wanted to help; shouldn’t that excuse the evils welfare has brought on our society? No. Because they were completely foreseeable. And they’re even less forgivable now when the liberals’ answer is more handouts that won’t work.
Tax Policy. Yeah, so we spent ourselves into debt. So let’s tax the rich to solve our problems. We want it to solve our problems. To hell with the fact that it will make it worse. Let’s just jack up the top rate to 70%. To hell with consequences! We want it to solve our problem, whether it actually will is irrelevant.
Just about any law making whatsoever…same problem. They create more problems. This is why the Tao Te Ching 57 states
[…]The more laws and restrictions there are,
The poorer people become.
The more rules and regulations,
The more thieves and robbers.[…]
2500 years ago they knew more than modern liberals. The more you want to try and change things the more you screw things up because there are always unintended consequences. Now those consequences may be forgivable if they could not be foreseen, but how many of our current problems were not so much 20/20 hindsight but rather clearly visible if we had just looked with foresight. Almost all of them.
And this doesn’t just apply to governments. Anyone who got a subprime loan. You violated the second rule. You wanted something and didn’t consider the consequences. How many of us go through all of our lives like this? Too many. We all need to adopt a habit of weighting consequences before we act—you know, try not to be completely stupid—and maybe also try to get those around us to also use some foresight.
If you want more examples of how acting before you think can cause major problems I would read Stone of Tears once you finished Wizard’s First Rule.