A Poverty of Wit

S M Chen
5 min readJun 5, 2021

“Mockery is often the result of a poverty of wit.”

  • Jean de la Bruyere (1645–1696), French philosopher, satirist

During the ongoing pandemic, despite its relatively low (about 2%) mortality, COVID-19 has been associated with a staggering number of deaths.

Worldwide, at last tally, there were over 172M cases of COVID and over 3.7M deaths.

Some deaths have been among relatively young people who might have avoided it by being vaccinated. Instead, some have not only foregone vaccination themselves, they have mocked vaccines and the protection they afford, potentially discouraging others. For them, karma may be like a serpent without patience: it can’t wait to bite.

One of the latest victims is described here:

Mr. Trujillo, the Denver sheriff’s deputy who died, commented: “I have an immune system.” While that was no doubt true, that system failed him. It was insufficient to survive the onslaught of a tiny virus that has bedeviled our planet.

There have been others like him. One of Mr. Trujillo’s co-workers died earlier in May, 2021. Both of them had apparently been eligible for the vaccine since January, 2021.

They may have been akin to the man who commented, “I’ve been reading so much about the evils of smoking… “ then added: “I’ve decided to give up reading.”

Stubbornness can sometimes be our undoing.

“Look and live” might have been told them, as was told the Israelites in the wilderness who had been bitten by poisonous snakes after Moses fashioned a brass serpent and put it on a pole for them to see. But, for whatever reason(s), some refused to look.

In the Judeo-Christian narrative, mockery and its consequence have been described. We mock at potential peril.

42 young people were mauled by two female bears in response to their mocking the Old Testament prophet Elisha. We are not told how many (if any) died. Retribution was immediate and macroscopic, rather…