Better a slow horse than a show horse (Jon D. Schaff, March 12, 2024, Current)

Maybe literary/philosophical figures such as Jackson Lamb, Socrates, Columbo and the rest exist to puncture our pretensions. In the specific case of those I just explicitly mentioned, the enigmatic characters exist to bring down the high and mighty, those who think they are smarter, wiser, better than everyone else. That is why each of those characters has a comic element. There is an ironic twist in, for instance, a Columbo story in which the seemingly mighty are brought low while the humble Columbo is shown to be the master of circumstances, always one step ahead of the pretentious fool who believes himself to be ahead of Columbo. This makes Columbo a comedic figure, the low man brought high. Yet, Columbo never lords over the criminal, rubbing the criminal’s face in his defeat. He mostly expresses pity that someone so obviously talented has gone so wrong.

We can draw from these characters the lesson of humility. Even Prince Hal, when he rises to Henry V, expresses doubts about his rule, agonizing over the cost of his decision to make war against France. Can we be humble in our successes? Can we avoid being the objects of the Socrates’ and Columbo’s, a person of inflated ego begging for someone to bring us down a peg? It may be better to be a slow horse than a foolish horse.