In these perilous times in which we all live—the beginning of the end-of-times, as some might say—I have become increasingly intrigued by the preponderance of undeniable stupidity evidenced by the human species.
Of which I am a part.
Consider the challenges currently facing us worldwide. According to the oft-maligned Millennial cohort, that generation of innocents born into western culture during the 80’s and 90’s (of which I am not a part), the major issues include the climate crisis; armed conflicts, often religious in nature, with their threat of nuclear annihilation; poverty, linked to increasing inequality among races, genders, and social classes; rampant corruption among government and corporate entities; and the spectre of food and water shortages, even in the developed world.
Every day, it seems, I read about extreme climate and weather events that are almost unprecedented, at least in our limited experience. I hear about regional war-zones expanding in places faraway from me, drawing major nations closer and closer to open conflict.
I learn about the increasing wealth gap between the haves and have-nots in our society and its concomitant effects—homelessness, unemployment, skyrocketing credit debt. I see public figures from both public and private sectors who have been caught with their fingers in the till, so to speak—people we older generations were taught to respect and admire.
And I watch as our precious arable land, oceans, and freshwater resources are choked by urban development, abuse, pollution, and general mismanagement.
Stupidity may be defined as—
- a lack of keenness of mind;
- inanity or pointlessness;
- an annoyance, irritation, or troublesome state;
- a state of stupefaction.
More humorously, here are some definitions essayed by minds more creative and cleverer than mine—
- Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe. (Einstein);
- There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life. (Frank Zappa);
- Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. (George Carlin);
- Stupidity cannot be cured. (Robert Heinlein);
- In politics, stupidity is not a handicap. (Napoleon); and
- Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results. (Margaret Atwood).
But my favourite is this from Ricky Gervais—
- When you are dead, you do not know you are dead. It is only painful for others. The same applies when you are stupid.
The humour is short-lived, however, when one pauses to consider the potential consequences of our collective stupidity. On a small scale, it’s as if, having finished the last of the toilet tissue in my bathroom yesterday, I fail to notice and decry its absence until I need it today. And by then, of course, it’s too late. I must do without until I can replenish the supply from a store.
But what happens when all the stores’ supplies are exhausted, too? Is this where our stupidity is leading us?
Buckminster Fuller wrote, “Human beings always do the most intelligent thing…after they’ve tried every stupid alternative and none of them have worked.” Would that he is right before it is too late!
If you have read this far, you might well ask me what I am doing to combat the dire state of affairs I’m bemoaning. The answer, unfortunately, is not a whole lot—unless you count the several blog posts I have written on this site, which almost no one will read.
Of course, the same question might be asked of you, assuming you share my concerns. Perhaps the best answer for both of us is this statement from a young American activist, Aditi Juneja:
“If you’ve wondered what you would’ve done during slavery, the Holocaust, or the civil rights movement…you’re doing it now.”
As are so many, alas.