Tag Archives: stupidity

Smart Thoughts About Stupidity

We have a culture that looks down on or is bigoted about stupidity. Maybe it’s a natural thing, a survival of the fittest and most intelligent, or maybe it’s a way of feeling more superior, and therefore the fittest. We of course shake our heads at the stupid things people do. What an idiot, we think. How can people be so stupid? You dummy. He’s the village idiot. She’s as smart as a sack of potatoes. The names go on.

There is a natural derision for the stupidity that people exhibit. And yet we know we all have momentary lapses where we do or say stupid things. Perhaps it’s because of that human fallibility that we scoff so loudly at others, trying to cover up our own stupidity. At its worst stupidity will kill you; at the least it will embarrass you.

I remember back to years ago when in a group of friends we knew too many Daves. There was Dave the engineer, Dave the store owner, Dave the grunt, etc. Dave the grunt was in the army, a perennial private because he just wasn’t very bright. He wasn’t a bad looking guy but he was a few marbles short of a bag. People made fun of him all the time. It began to disturb me because we can learn some things but only if our brains have the capacity to do so. People are born with different levels of intelligence. There is nothing they can do about that and it’s not their fault. Making fun of a person’s stupidity is the same as making fun of them because of their height, or eye color, or skin color, or nose shape. They cannot help it. It’s what genetics tossed into the bag when they were being made.

It is wisdom that we learn and you can have a stupid but wise person, or an intelligent yet unwise person. As people continued to deride the grunt I observed the interactions. What I started to realize was that we didn’t make fun of him because he was stupid; we made fun of him because he wasn’t very nice and he was stupid. He was nasty to women and just very rude in general.

Years later I had another friend who is intelligent enough but not overly bright and given to some very wrong concepts about the world. Another person once said some very insulting words to her face, about, “well you’re just not very bright,” or, “you’re stupid. What do you know.” I thought this was terrible because the very witty and intelligent person making such comments was smart enough to not need to say this but she was just very mean. The person who was stupid in some senses was also a very nice person. In fact, she let the comment slide right off of her. She had tons of compassion, worked well, was diligent and talented in her own way. She had enough friends because she was nice.

So I learned stupidity doesn’t necessarily lose you friends, but nastiness does. The above example works for the intelligent but unwise (and spiteful person) and the stupid but wise person, who can not think beyond a certain level but learns from life’s lessons. Stupid people may not create the next world-saving device but it’s smart people who will be more likely to use it for destroying. I’m not saying that stupid people can’t do the same (George Bush is a good example of powerful stupidity) but stupidity alone does not make a person a failure.

We often laugh or shake our heads in wonderment at someone’s stupid actions, even our own. But sometimes that is a momentary thing. However, the next time you make fun of a person’s intelligence, think about why you’re doing so and if you’ve ever had a stupid moment. May we all use the smarts we have and use it well. Happy Friday.

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Bigotry and the Dumbing Down of the US

The US continues to perpetuate the stereotype that Americans are stupid. There is always a truth in a stereotype. While I know many intelligent Americans I wonder at the great gobbets of them who have such a bigoted and kneejerk reaction as to stop using their faculties for reasoning, deduction and fairness. No political system is perfect and really, democracy only works with 100 people or less (in my opinion) before its edges get a little rough.

Nine years after 9/11 and the stupidity seems to be mounting, not lessening. Certain small-minded, fear-laden people are equating the building of a mosque near ground zero with terrorism and other silly notions. They’ve used such rabid comments even in their Republican and Tea Party campaigns. What comments? Oh, let’s see, equating a Muslim to a terrorist, showing a picture of a nearly stereotypical turban-wearing man as a terrorist, calling candidates of Lebanese descent (and Christian) as being Arab. The amount of ignorance, fear mongering and bigotry is astounding.

Now, not all republicans are bad, or so right wing that they can only see sideways, but this attitude that everyone of the Muslim faith is a jihadist terrorist is outright ridiculous and dangerous. Why dangerous? Well if someone kept calling me a terrorist or some other nasty phrase when I was not I would tend to be less forgiving of anything they did and maybe just maybe would decide that if I was already branded then I may as well play the part.  The best way to show the idiocy of such allegations and get sense into the thickening skulls of such people is to give a comparison. If all terrorists are Muslim and therefore all Muslims are terrorists, then all Klu Klux Klan members are Christian and all Christians are KKK. And what is KKK but a terrorist group too? Well, you say, that’s only KKK and they’re a freakish group but not the same as terrorists. Still, the overt labeling is dangerous and inaccurate.

If a man has an obsession with eating pickles and then kills someone, is it because of the pickles or the man? If someone reads a murder mystery and decides to commit a crime that might just resemble that story, is it the story’s fault or the person’s. Responsibility and choices lie with the individual and very few groups all think the same. I talk specifically of religious groups. There are orthodox and non-orthodox, liberal and conservative aspects to most religious paths, as well as branches and branches. Look at Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Muslim faiths. There are many varieties on the theme.

The mosque in New York would be like mosques everywhere else. They have not said that the mosque’s agenda is to teach terrorism and it’s retarded (how can you tell that this makes me angry) to believe that’s the mandate. I know several Muslims who are quiet about their faith, like many Christians or Jews. Here’s another question: should a religion move into another country and plant its religion doing missionary work and pushing its faith on the people who have other traditions. Think of all those early Christian missionaries and the ones today, going all over the world to do “good works” but in the process trying to convert people. In the past that conversion was often accompanied my abuse and murder.

I’m not that astounded that people are so biased as to not see clearly and whine about the mosque in New York. But I am astounded at some of the campaigns going around with outright racism and bigotry in their messages. Like you can run a country on denouncing terrorists and prejudicing people against those who are innocent. Can anyone say Hitler? I don’t expect any American to read this who thinks there should be no mosque at ground zero. What would be best of all would be a temple/church/altar of every faith in a circle at ground zero. Now that would show that perhaps the faiths can come together and let everyone be, in peace.

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