The Fool demanded to be heard. He did not offer reason nor reward. He offered selfish ideals. He exalted illogical virtues. The Fool preached this to the others. He taught them to demand they be heard.
One spoke up. He spoke about politics he'd never followed before. When his peers noted his failings on the subject and he found himself without ground, he looked to the Fool. He demanded to be heard. He shouted facts that were not facts and he became a fool.
A second spoke. She spoke about religion she had never questioned. When her peers questioned her and she could not answer, she looked to the Fools. She demanded to be heard. She hissed condemnations and steeled herself with righteousness, and she became a fool.
Another spoke, and another. Now another. The noise rose. They shouted at once. They shouted without cease. They all became fools.
I turned away and found the Wise Man behind me.
He did not speak, but I listened. I did not speak, but he listened.
When one speaks, one cannot listen, he said without saying.
When everyone is shouting, no one can hear, he spoke without speaking.
When one listens, they may be better prepared to speak, I mused without a murmur.
The noise died down behind me, and I turned round again. I ventured to ask, 'Can you hear me?'
Some of them looked at me. Some of them saw me. Some of them nodded, and listened, and were silent. They became wiser. But the others were incensed that someone should be heard instead of them. They began anew their shouting. Those who had listened turned away and together we sat with the Wise Man and were quiet.
Being unafraid of opening one's mouth does not equate to the fear of closing it, he put forth in silence.
The Fool teaches others to be heard. He tells them that they should be heard. That they must be heard... But he does not teach them why. He does not teach them why or when or how they should be heard. He does not teach them who they should be heard by, so they shout it to anyone, everyone. He does not teach them to deserve to be heard. He does not teach them to hear others.
The Wise Man teaches us to speak our minds. He teaches us that there are times when we can make a difference with our words. He also teaches us to recognise these times. He teaches us to listen for them. He teaches us to be informed and if we speak when we are not, it should be in the form of a question. He teaches us to listen for the answers, that we may then speak as the informed. He teaches us that if we all truly deserve to be heard, we must all take our turn to listen. For who will hear?
So we sat in silence, trying to hear the voices in the crowd of Fools.
And we listened for the weapons we would use when it was our turn to speak.