I was in a local coffee shop this morning, having a cuppa and reading the paper; my ears pricked up when I heard two women talking. I heard one of them say, “…you know what he’s like, he doesn’t suffer fools gladly”.
I cringed when I heard the words because this has to be one of my least favourite expressions in the English language. It’s a well-known and sadly well-used phrase in today’s world. it’s origin lies in a passage of writing contained within the New Testament (2 Corinthians 11:19 King James Version) — although, its original Biblical meaning has now been somewhat corrupted.
Why does it bother me so much?
People use this phrase when they describe others; they use it as if to ‘not suffer fools gladly’ is some sort of innate personal quality – something to be admired. For me it’s a phrase that is indicative of intolerance. It’s shorthand and generally means: ‘you are not as clever as me; you are stupid and I haven’t got time for stupid people’.
Treating the phrase as a positive characteristic, in my view, excuses belligerence and intolerance. Sadly it sums up people’s attitude towards each other these days.