George MacDonald Quote: Foolish People - djedwardson.com
george macdonald quote

George MacDonald Quote: Foolish People

George MacDonald wrote many wonderful stories, but my favorite by a country mile is The Wise Woman and the Lost Princess. It’s full of gentle humor, thoughtful advice, and reflections on the nature of this vast adventure known as life. My copy has so many underlines that I think I spent almost as much ink reading it as the printer did printing it! (it’s rare that to find so many sparking gems in a single book, much less an 80 page short story).

I’ve been writing so much, it’s ages since I put up a quote here, but a friend recently finished reading my copy of MacDonald’s Collected Short StoriesAnd as I was leafing back through it before returning it to the shelf, I just had to glance through some of my favorite passages and one in particular caught my eye so I thought I’d share it.

Oh those foolish people…

george macdonald quote

Some foolish people think they take another’s part when they take the part he takes.

This quote illustrates something I often see. In fact, these days, I see it more than ever. Perhaps because it is in fact more common, or perhaps because I’m getting older, I’m not sure. But it is this: when people decide all that matters is approval—that you should never dare oppose someone who is pursuing what they love even if it’s candy for breakfast every day and in ten years their teeth fall out.

“You be you,” is the mantra of the moment.

But what if “you” is mean and vengeful and self-centered?

Why do we think we are doing someone a favor by not mentioning the enormous giant pothole they are about to step into or have already stepped into?

I know it’s not easy to stand up for what’s right. You’ll probably lose some friends if you do. Some people don’t much seem to want any help. And of course we don’t always need to speak up on every little thing. But sometimes silence does more harm than good and sins of omission do more damage in the long run than being kind but honest.

So consider just how the part you’re taking will actually look dressed up along all those other skeletons in your friend’s closet before you take it.

You might just be doing your friend a favor.

And if he’s a real friend, one day he’ll thank you for it.

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Comments (5)

  1. Matthew Cyr May 6, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    Good quote, and good discussion around it. I don’t think it’s just you getting older; our culture had become such that one of the only “sins” it now recognizes is taking a moral stance on what someone else is doing. It’s a valuable friend that brings discernment and speaks the truth in love – who won’t compromise either the truth or the love.

    • DJ Edwardson May 6, 2019 at 7:51 pm

      Discernment. Now there’s a word! It takes great wisdom to know when and how to restore or rebuke and also much humility to receive it. Not easy, but worth it in the end. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Jenelle June 19, 2019 at 3:53 pm

    THANK YOU!

    Ugh, “You be you” is my least favorite saying and it drives me crazy! I always want to respond to that with, “Well… unless ‘you’ is an axe murderer, then perhaps you should be someone else.” (Annoyed Jenelle gets a little snarky).

    Such a great reminder, and that quote is awesome! I now HAVE a copy of Wise Woman… and I will read it! I have to finish Lady Dragon, Tela Du, but it’s next on my list! (I wish I had more time to read… about the only thing that ever makes me contemplate quitting this writing this is the knowledge that it would free me up to do a TON more reading!) 😀

    • DJ Edwardson June 19, 2019 at 5:18 pm

      Ha ha, yes, I was trying not to be quite so direct, but your words more closely reflect my inner thoughts when someone says, “you be you.” It so often seems to be used to justify the worst sorts of tendencies in people.

      Knowing how fast you read, it’s a crying shame you haven’t read Wise Woman yet, a crying shame, I say! It really is just about one of the most beautiful, warm, tender stories you will ever come across. It runs laps around anything Disney’s ever done. A fairy tale for the ages, and for all ages.

      To give you an idea of how much I love the story, when someone says they’re looking for fantasy recommendations I ask, “Have you read Lord of the Rings? Okay, good. Have you read The Chronicles of Narnia? Okay, good. Now go read The Wise Woman.” It’s that good. While it lacks the epic fantasy of the first two, in some ways it has all of those wonderful bits from Narnia with Aslan all compacted into a much smaller space.

      And, please don’t give up writing! There are far too few good ones like you out there. Please keep clinging to the raft with the rest of us castaways. You may only ever sneak a page or two of reading in between the waves, but the journey is more than worth it!

      • Jenelle June 20, 2019 at 10:47 am

        🙂 Yes, you had a much more gracious way of putting it! 🙂

        That is a very high recommendation. And yes, it’s ridiculous how many times you’ve had to mention it before I got my hands on a copy! *hangs head in shame* but it IS next on my list! My copy arrived when we were packing up boxes, so it got packed up with all my other books. (Actually, even the book I was in the middle of reading at the time got accidentally packed up! LOL So that kind of threw me off a bit).

        Aww, well, thanks! No worries, it looks like the world is pretty much stuck with me being a writer, scribbling away at these pages for the foreseeable future.

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