People, by and large, are stupid.
I’m not saying this from some sense of superiority, nor did I just have some upsetting experience with a stupid person. This is a fairly deep-seated belief I base on twenty-something years of observing the human experience.
Politicians say “Our schools are failing.” and like sheep people line up to agree. The same politicians push through an agenda that may or may not help but is based on zero study of the matter, zero knowledge of education or child psychology, and zero consideration for the potential to further damage the system. What do we wind up with? Schools that now have to squeeze facts into their students heads by rote so the children can pass the “standards-based” tests. Schools cutting back on creative arts so they can focus on cramming in more “important” dates from the social studies texts so they don’t lose funding. Renewed calls for a voucher system so that richer people can send public education funds along with their children to private schools which are unencumbered by these “standards”. They strive to hog-tie public education and then claim that parents should be able to take public funding to the private institutions which magically seem to be more effective. Never mind that private schools can pick their students. The public, like braying asses, line up to cheer them on.
Lets take politics in general as a further example of the mindset. People join political parties and then tend to vote along their party lines as if Democrats and Republicans are locked in some “us vs. them” game. The separation between these parties is actually about as great as that between medium gray and medium gray. There is an “us vs. them” game going on, but the “them” is the politicians in power who strive to maintain the status quo and thus their grasp on the reins and it’s the rest of “us” they are striving to satiate with sound bites and pounding fists and righteous indignation, and people lap it all up without a thought.
I am religious, but I encounter people who have never considered their own faith in more than a passing way. We have cults because people hurt and crave structure they can’t provide for themselves, but that is not at issue for me (at least not in this context). I’m talking about relatively whole people who are just plain afraid to examine the tenets of their religion or the history of their church with a clear eye. No offense to the Mormons, but I did throw a quick glance your direction when I wrote that. Still, I’ve met people at my own church who share my beliefs who do so blindly.
People are a billion screaming little voices all insisting on their own way, each feeling entitled to pursue whatever petty or profound impulse drives them this second. The guy who jumps into the merge lane during gridlock so he can squeeze himself back in to traffic 300 feet further forward in the same traffic jam. The lady who insists on exercising her God-given right to provide her own running commentary at the movie theater. Everyone who has ever voted on a ballot measure based on a TV commercial.
We’ve all been selfish, but I’m talking about the “I’m more important than everyone else” mentality that seems so pervasive.
We’ve all done stupid things (I’ve done my share AND your share), but I’m talking about the unwillingness to learn from the stupid things and/or the inability to see them for being stupid.
We’ve all been impulsive, but I’m talking about the downright worship of impulse.
We’ve all been mislead, but I’m talking about the blind acceptance of any bullshit that is spoon-fed with a smile.
Individuals may be very smart and/or clever, but I say it again: People are stupid; as a mass, as a group, as a sum total.
My advice to you all is don’t be stupid. Examine before you believe. Remember there are other people out there and that you are not more special than they. Be aware that people in powerful positions may in fact have an agenda.
Whatever you do, don’t just sit around cursing the darkness like I do. That is also stupid. Light a candle and show some of the cattle the folly of their ways.