BY MICHAEL REISIG –
Today we have so many campaigns to improve this, or stop that – crusades against sugary sodas, debilitating diseases, and annoying habits. Why isn’t there a crusade against stupidity? We’re always trying to crush evil. Hell, there’s a lot more stupidity in this world than evil, and its darn near as dangerous. Generally, evil has its limitations. Stupidity has no bounds, no shelf life. I have friends that married beautiful people who weren’t smart enough to peel an orange. I tried to explain to them that beauty fades, but dumb is forever.
On top of it all, nowadays stupid seems contagious. I watch the new television shows, listen to our politicians, or accidently get caught in a room with rap music, and I tell myself, “Never underestimate the power of stupid.” Admittedly, there are some things that don’t seem to be affected. In today’s politics, stupid doesn’t seem to be a handicap at all. Brings to mind George Carlin, who often spoke of the unique, unilateral expansion of stupidity in large groups of people.
Years ago I had an acquaintance who told me he realized he was just smart enough to know that he was stupid. And that poignant statement has stayed with me throughout my life. What a terrible cage to find yourself in. He was a nice guy, and it increased my regret for him. But there are a lot of less than bright people who are just bulldog intransigent, translating hearsay into gospel with unerring regularity. When I find myself in debates with these folks and they say, “I’m entitled to my opinion,” I tell them they’re entitled to their informed opinion. No one is entitled to be mud duck, stop sign stupid and call it an opinion. Reminds me of the quote by the author, Jim Hines: “Freedom of speech doesn’t protect you from saying stupid crap.”
There’s nothing more galling (and dangerous) than conscientious stupidity and tunnel vision – the combination has been responsible for mayhem throughout history. I’ve been in a number of dangerous situations in my life and most of them came about through someone’s stupidity. (Okay, a lot of times it was mine). Nonetheless, I’ll take crazy over stupid any day. You know, if stupidity was punishable by the loss of an eye, there would be entire cities in this country where eye patches would outsell toilet paper. Congress would have to keep a box of eye patches at the door to each house. Ninety percent of the television and movie producers would be blind in a month.
The oddest part of all is that there is a remarkable sense of bliss in stupid. In some cases you’re just not smart enough to take a serious interest in the things that flat-out bedevil the rest of us, or you’re just so mud duck stupid that you think you’re right about everything. The novelist Julian Barnes once said, “To be stupid, and selfish, and to have good health are the three requirements for happiness – though if stupidity is lacking, the others are useless.”
I’m going to close with a final quote by a man who understood the distance between smart and stupid: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” – Albert Einstein