Do not be overrighteous,neither be overwisewhy destroy yourself?17 Do not be overwicked,and do not be a foolwhy die before your time?18 It is good to grasp the oneand not let go of the other.Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.Ecclesiastes 7:16-18
The most careful parent on the planet hovers over the child like a helicopter, spawning the term helicopter parent. This parent invests in every piece of protective gear for junior, effectively wrapping her in bubble wrap for every activity. This parent carefully rations the childs television usage and ensures that the little one does not sit too close to any device that might emit harmful and as-yet-unidentified radiation. Dont even ask about vaccination, because this parent wont take any chances, lest an MMR booster kick junior over into the autism spectrum. Smoke alarm batteries are changed religiously when daylight savings time begins, and background checks run on each and every adult who crosses juniors path. This is a careful parent.
How surprising then when that child became the victim of a freak, unpredictable accident.
When Solomon speaks of someone being overrighteous or overwise, I think he might be speaking of the helicopter parent. The overrighteous person is obsessed with doing the right thing in absolutely every situation. The overwise person thinks things through perhaps a bit too much and believes himself possessed of all the right answers.
Solomon doesnt suggest ignoring the right thing. He doesnt think that the helicopter parent ought to land, hand the kids a box of razor blades, and tell them to play on the Interstate. Instead, hes pointing out the uncertainty of human life and the inability of individuals to control that life.
Happily as stewards of our own bodies and as guardians of the growing bodies of our children, we dont have to be perfect. Weor our childrencan eat a little bit of junk food, engage in a bit of dangerous play, and expose ourselves to a moderate amount of contagion without utterly ruining our lives.
Both obsession and neglect destroy life, in Solomons view. In between those extremes lies a wide swath of acceptable and healthy behavior in which we can be happy and make the best of things.
Were all going to die, he continues to remind us. We might as well enjoy matters and please God until then.