Chapter 23 is a continuation of Solomon's 30 "Do Not" sayings for the Wise. These chapters outline pitfalls that are to be avoided by Wise men. We could likely dedicate another 30 days to these subchapters...this project is to be reserved for another time.
Saying #10 in three versions:
"Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn you prudent words"
"Do Not waste your words on the fool. He will despise the wisdom of your words."
"Do not speak in the hearing of a fool. For he will despise the wisdom of your words."
Time and energy are finite resources. The Wise man does not spend the resources necessary to speak with the fools. When teaching or training Fools, the best case scenario is slow progress. More often, the Wise meet opposition and hostility with training a Fool. There are instances where Fools must be trained. In those occasions, the Wise will proceed deliberately and with great discipline. Discussions with fools must be intentional and strategic. "Great spirits have always encountered Violent Opposition from Mediocre Minds" - Albert Einstein.
Fools are threatened by wisdom. When fools feel threatened, they lash out. Unfortunately, in this age of social media and digital communication, every fool has a magnified voice. For most of recorded history, such a platform was accompanied by a responsibility of discretion. Such discretion is often lacking in those who pander to the constituency of fools. The Wise realize there is little to gain through the engagement of fools. Often the Wise remain silent rather than engage the yammering horde. In the absence of leadership or Wisdom, people will listen to anyone who speaks up...The challenge to the Wise is present cogent information without engaging the fools.
Iron Sharpens Iron. The Wise hone the skills of the wise. Often, Wisdom (and wealth) is passed amongst the society of the Wise. Wisdom is reserved for the select few who possess the Discipline and fortitude necessary to receive said wisdom. The Fool is certainly welcome to this table...Discretion, discipline, and a willingness to learn is the toll one must pay for a seat.
If we are the sum of the five people with whom we spend the most time. I choose to limit my exposure to fools. My resources and finite. I must invest them wisely.