I try to gain wisdom over smart as I age in place. I always thought wisdom was less in supply than smart. We have many smart people who just aren’t wise. We have individuals with numerous degrees or credentials. They became well educated in specific areas but they never became wise. Maybe that is why we see the outpouring of stupidity we see today.
I recently read an article from the Wall St. Journal regarding the Golden Age of Stupidity, (written by Lance Morrow, August 30, 2021) that nails the idea of our glorious state of stupidity. We don’t have to look far to see numerous examples of it. A large most recent example is the withdrawal from Afghanistan. An older version was the long deadly war in Vietnam. Another modern day stupidity is the refusal of millions of people to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. It makes one scratch the head when polio vaccine was accepted, small pox accepted, measles, mumps, tetanus, whopping cough (I got the shot 2 years ago after nearing dying from the disease. Here I thought you only got it in childhood. My stupidity.) How about the crazies running around and inside the capitol on January 6th. How about the Trump years’ stupidity where the political parties were locked in a “4-year drama” of mutual “demeaning abuse and hysteria”. Morrow’s article gives numerous examples of stupidity in action.
You can’t really describe stupidity but as Justice Potter Stewart’s pornography line says “you know it when you see it”. History is riddled with examples of stupid. How about in mythology the Trojans allowing the Greek wooden horse to move inside the city walls. That is pretty stupid. How about the Popes during the Renaissance ignoring the complaints of Martin Luther and others that led to the Reformation. That changed history. Morrow thinks, in fact, stupidity is at the heart of most decisions that result in the tragedies of our time.
Lance Morrow talks about the fatal explosion of “brainlessness”. He speaks to the convergence of many “seemingly unrelated elements that have produced this explosion.” Taking us back to the 60’s, we see we had lots of stupidity, the Vietnam War, the murders of Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, the shootings at Kent State and the counterculture. The baby boomers of today still long for the music of the 60’s and the counterculture. The 60’s opened up the door to the “subversion” of manners and the death of privacy. Since then, the tech companies have thrived and capitalized on both. We now can have little to no privacy and I’m still looking for the old model of manners. Loud music, restaurant loud sounds piped into the ladies’ room, yelling to be heard at dinner, watching television while dining in restaurants, poor phone manners, texting while driving (now that is stupid as well as poor manners). Devaluation of history, science and civics can make for lots of stupid. Our cavalier attitude towards obesity and diabetes that a pill can take care of the disrespect of our bodies is another example of stupidity and arrogance. I mean if I were the body speaking to its owner, I would tell it to either shape up or I’m getting out of here
I have written before about America striving to move out of the “barbarian” phase of civilization into the civilized phase of civilization. We are stuck in between and other nations wonder why we have more guns than people. Why don’t we change some of the gun laws to try and stop the slaughter. Here is where stupidity rears its head again. It’s hard to cure “stupid” or “brainlessness”. It’s hard to understand why wisdom can’t step in and sprinkle the population while it sleeps.
We wonder why we have so many mental problems, homelessness, corrupt leaders, expensive health care and drug problems. We now wrestle with ourselves through covid and find some of the restrictions unbearable as we run out of patience. Sometimes all we need to do is scratch our underarms to remind us of our waking ancestors coming out of their caves.
Lance Morrow brings up the suggestion that it is a short ride from stupidity to madness. I think he is on to something here. He suggests that people aren’t people any more. They have become cartoons and categories and we have splintered identities. It’s all a bit much. It seems like there is a rebellion against reality.
The Aquarian Age is here to help us move forward out of fear and superstition. One of its purposes is to help us move into more enlightened and rational thinking. It’s a gradual move forward for the next 2,000 years but we might try and practice a bit of it now. Bring back some manners too. We could all benefit from courtesy and good manners. Please also turn down the loud music in the ladies room.
(Lance Morrow’s latest book is “God and Mammon: Chronicles of American Money”)