The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.


on July 20, 2012


Strange thoughts sometimes occur to me. They  pop up out of nowhere. There’s no connection between the thought and anything else I might be doing or thinking about. It happened again yesterday.  I asked myself, “If ignorance is bliss why aren’t there more happy people?”

That, of course, presumes there are an awful lot of people who aren’t very bright: some of them   running around without leashes.  Well – aren’t there? Before we work on artificial intelligence, maybe we ought to work on doing something about natural stupidity. Instead of  testing for drugs, why don’t we test for ignorance and love of power? Viagra and multi-vitamins enhance the lives of some people but where is the scientist who can develop “smart” pills?

Imagine politics with its dumbbell element removed. There is nothing so easy to enslave as ignorance.   It is the enemy of civilization, the foe of enlightenment. “Get all the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything.”  (Frank Dane) Is that why we have irresponsible leaders who make promises and don’t deliver? Do you  think the fools out number the smarties?

Some folks believe there are things man was not meant to know. I disagree.  He may not understand them but he still wants to know.  Witness the curious child who asks ‘why’ at every opportunity. That child may not understand the principle of natural selection but he still wants to know why  the spider spins  a web. We are bombarded with information, deluged by a media circus, and it’s difficult to know what to let seep in and what to toss in the trash. The dumbest people anywhere, at any time, are those who think they know it all.  They far outnumber the brainiees.

All of which raises this question.  Can we become smarter than we are or are we doomed;  locked into whatever the gene pool dictates?  The best advice I’ve ever read is summarized in one sentence. “The best way to become smarter than you are is to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are.” (George Steinbenner, owner of the New York Yankees) How do you do that? Even if you  try you will undoubtedly encounter a few who are not aces in the deck of cards called life. Steinbrenner’s comment reminds me of a Yiddish proverb. ‘A table is not blessed if it has not fed a scholar.”

Maybe we could do it if we stopped treating infants and toddlers as though they were pets and instead recognized and nurtured their extraordinary ability to learn. If we did that,  there might well be far fewer idiots and fools among us. That, however, is a subject for another post – maybe more than one.

Post a comment.

Julie Rose



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