“Fool me once – shame on you!  Fool me twice – shame on me!”

This saying underscores the responsibility we have to place our trust in people wisely.  Trust cannot be blind and must have a memory.   However, if you’re applying this saying  there must be a realization that you have been fooled once.

Some never realize this has happened to them.  For others, being fooled is the underpinning of their happiness.  Sometimes people actually prefer being fooled rather than knowing the truth.  How does this happen? Can we slide into that preference?  The preference for being fooled rather than knowing the truth is more prevalent that we might initially think.  It can be born out of laziness.

The desire to let others do our thinking  for us rather than checking things out for ourselves opens the door to being ‘taken in’.  We do this countless times a day when our decisions are swayed by advertising, public opinion and the desire to have people think well of us.  Any one who has acted against their better judgement because they were convinced by another to follow a different course of action from their own choice,  to their regret, knows this all too well.  Greed, peer pressure and fear of man are  ever beguiling accomplices of tyrants who  fool some into submission to what’s popular or expedient.  Fool them once – they want it.  Fool them twice – they still want it!

While others are prone to being fooled because they are vulnerable and have been traumatized.  People in those situations can be taken in by unscrupulous opportunists.  In such cases we cannot judge because when we do so we ‘blame the victims’.   When the vulnerable are ‘fooled’ more than twice the best we can do is to try to understand how that happens and learn from it.

Addiction, loneliness, trauma and the many misfortunes of life in a fallen world can bring a person to a desperation that searches for some kind – any kind, of solace and assurance.  Such people are predisposed to being fooled.  They grasp at any scrap of happiness and hope that they find .  A starving person doesn’t stop to dust off a stale crust of bread before they eat it, only to find that the scrap of food comes with a cost.   Vulnerable people are ready-made victims for predatory personalities who seek them out to  service their wants.  Fool them once – shame on them.  Fool them twice – even more shame is heaped on them!

How do we protect ourselves from being fooled?  Ask questions.  Pay attention to the answers.  Observe behavior – does it line up with what people say?  Don’t be pushed into committing yourself because your buttons of fear/obligation/guilt are being pushed.  Never be forced into quick decisions or making major commitments without allowing yourself plenty of time to think about it.  Finally, you have the assertive right to change your mind if you are having doubts and think you’re being fooled.  Use this right.

What do you think?