Crazy world. The true meaning of ‘Kook’ by Hal O’Leary

Crazy world. The true meaning of ‘Kook’ by Hal O’Leary

Crazy horse by Roberta Dulay

Crazy world. The true meaning of ‘Kook’ by Hal O’Leary: a person whose ideas or actions are very strange or foolish.


Having been referred to by more than one person as a “kook,” and having that term used in relation to more than one of my idiosyncratic peculiarities, I’ve turned to Merriam-Webster for a clearer understanding of just what the designation “kook” is meant to imply. This is what I find:

kook noun \’kuk\: a person whose ideas or actions are very strange or foolish.

I’ve then begun to review those ideas and actions for which I am thought to be a kook. I find that both my ideas and actions are in relation to the various, troublesome questions which I raise and attempt to answer. More often, these are questions for which there are no immediate answers. They might be questions like:

1. Is there an omnipotent, omniscient and merciful God, and if so, how do we account for some of the horrors which this god has chosen to inflict on those of his own creation?

2. Can the Bible, with its questionable origins and its many contradictions, be taken literally as the word of God?

3. How were stones weighing hundreds of tons raised to great heights in the construction of the pyramids and many other structures throughout the world?

4. How were precise maps drawn of Antarctica at some time in antiquity, when it wasn’t until the advent of modern technology that we have been able to ascertain the continent’s true dimensions?

5. What is the origin and purpose of the Nazca lines and other stylized inscriptions in Peru that are only detectable from above the earth, or the moai or Easter Island statues?

6. Who was responsible for the deaths of JFK, RFK, MLK Jr. and JFK Jr.? Was the assassination of JFK really a coup d’etat?

7. In light of the fact that 9/11, one of the greatest crimes in the human history, has never had a full and independent investigation, is it not reasonable to suspect a conspiracy?

8. Is there life throughout the Universe, and have we been and are we being visited by UFOs and extraterrestrials, and what is the explanation for so-called crop circles?

Unless and until these questions are answered, increased inquiry and investigation are not only valid but imperative, and the so-called kooks who take up the charge are to be honored, not stigmatized.

If by ideas we mean thoughts and speculation as to what the answers to these questions might be, I should think that such thoughts and speculation in an attempt to arrive at the answers would be simply an exercise of man’s natural curiosity. And, since curiosity must be credited for every step man has taken in the name of progress toward a better life, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that such questions and speculations in search of truth are anything but strange and foolish? Indeed, what could be more important for rational progress than a better understanding of our past, a clear revelation of our present, and with those, a more intelligent approach to the future?

If by actions we mean the gathering of courage to seek truth wherever it may lead and then to act on that truth without prejudice or malice, should such action be thought of as strange or foolish? Surprisingly, the answer might be yes, but strange only in the sense that so few seem to possess such courage, and foolish only in the sense that those without it in all probability view any action as being not worth the risk.

So, where do these suppositions leave us? There is no doubt that I and those like me are labeled “kooks” for our ideas and actions in regard to the aforementioned questions. If our ideas in response to those questions can justifiably be thought of as strange and foolish, it can only be so when they are once-and-for-all factually and truthfully answered, or at least countered with something more plausible. Actions of the so-called “kooks” are thus termed strange and foolish only by those who lack the wisdom, will or courage to act.

One of two things must therefore be true: Either the so-called kooks characterized as being strange and foolish are in fact not strange, but most humanely normal and thus not foolish (and in the final analysis most wise), or the word “kook” has been erroneously defined or unjustly applied. In a willingness to face the truth, which for the most part has been lost as a virtue–as is any obligation to brotherhood which is fast fading–the so-called “kooks” may indeed represent the last great hope for life as we know it.

The sad truth is that the word “kook” may be more accurately applied to those who in their cowardice, ignorance or imprudence choose simply to ignore the questions rather than to face an unknown truth which they might fear. When we consider the folly of such attitudes, we might choose to characterize such fools as the true “kooks.” Once again, we might turn to Merriam-Webster to find:

1cuck•oo noun \ˈkü-(ˌ)kü, ˈku̇-\: a silly or slightly crackbrained person.

Perhaps the kinder connotation of the word “cuckoo” might be a bit less stigmatic, were it applied to those who blissfully “go along to get along” because it is not nearly as insulting and resented as the more pejorative word “kook.” By contrast, unfortunately, “kook” is applied to those of us, whose only offense lies in the formulation of sane ideas subject to revision from time to time, but often leading to meaningful action whose goal is simply to . . . know!

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Hal O’Leary is an eighty-seven-year-old Secular Humanist who believes that it is only through the arts that one is afforded an occasional glimpse into the otherwise incomprehensible. He has been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from West Liberty University.

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