Ever feel like that? If you said "often," I assume you are a normal human interacting with other normal humans. I hear those kinds of comments from people about others, and I feel those comments when I read some of the responses to world problems on various social media sites. The temptation comes to put the person in their place, show him how stupid he sounds, and make the point so clearly that the person can't help but change their mind. But honestly, do we really change anyone's mind when we show him or her how stupid they are?
So today I posted a response to one of these people, not a nasty response, just a pointed one. But five minutes later, I took it down. Why?
Because I realized I make my world. What kind of world do I want it to be? My response wasn't kind and pointing out a new way to view it. I wanted to show her how dumb her comment was. What was I creating by responding? Was it a better world?
Ignorance is a blight on society, but it won't be cured by pushing our views on someone else. Indeed we all think we are smart about what we believe. We may have had others tell us we are smart confirming to ourselves that we know the facts. But even knowing "the facts" doesn't make us really understand a problem.
I found it fascinating to discover in my years of tutoring that while I had always been "smart" in math, I never understood much of it. I got lots of A's because I knew facts and could work the problems, but I really didn't understand what it was about; I didn't see the connections to real life. As I began tutoring others and attempted to explain math ideas over and over I began to see what was behind some of the formulas and processes. It would have taken an exceptional teacher to get this across in my high school years, and perhaps it couldn't have been done. Why? I wasn't ready. I didn't care. I didn't have the thought process capable to think it through on the level I do now. I was satisfied with getting A's and thought that meant I understood what I was doing.
A person has to be ready and a person has to have some level of care to learn new information, to go to a deeper understanding. Watch a mother trying to potty train a toddler who is not ready; watch an instructor who is trying to teach a student who doesn't care about the subject matter. Ask yourself when you learned something without having a level of care about it or when you weren't ready to take it in, or worse, when someone tried to make you feel stupid for not understanding the problem. When we are full of our own opinions, as most are when posting on social media sites, the thought is not open to hearing what others have to say.
As I read another comment, by a friend this time, in a social media posting about an action taken by the "retards," of which I would be one according to him, I saw again: we all are stupid in our own way. I know he wouldn't have written what he did if he knew it included me or if he had a relative who was deemed "retarded." I know he wrote out of fear, as so many who are angry and impassioned do. And I know that I say and do many stupid things, too. (The trick is to try to do less of them on any given day.)
We are all making our worlds with our words and our actions. When we respond to idiocy with our own brand of stupidity, it merely makes the idiocy escalate. If we want our world to act more intelligently, we have to act that way ourselves.
"People!" we say. The truth is we are all people trying to find our way through the confusing, contradictory challenges we face with the information we have gained through our experiences and education and what we think we know as fact. It can take many years and many experiences before we develop the wisdom to realize how little we really know, to ask questions of others to understand how they came to their conclusions instead of telling them how it is, and to wait patiently for others to catch up to our lofty level of knowledge (which we may discover is not so lofty.) May we have the grace to recognize this in the midst of stupidity: our own or another's.
"True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us." - Socrates