I don't really imagine Americans are alone in their disabilities, but I received the following four 'stupid' clips in e-mail this morning:
1. With subtitles
2. Remembering 9/11
3. Prime minister
4. From the Bush era
Stupidity is an interesting and sometimes frightening commodity. First of all, a person who is called stupid is frequently not aware of his or her own stupidity. It takes some second, 'smarter' person to point it out, although events may also call a particular perspective into question.
Second, there can be a blissful pig-headedness to stupidity -- a kind of I'm-getting-by-so-I-can't-be-that-stupid assurance. As a corollary, there can be a real unwillingness to revise approaches, even in the face of painful, factual evidence.
And third, the person who recognizes stupidity in others can exemplify an unwillingness to learn from the very stupidity they observe: Is there anyone so smart that they do not likewise possess blind spots and bias? British TV comedies are often based on this premise and there are guys with shotguns hanging in the rear window of the pickup truck who can survey the academic or literate scene and point out appropriately, "He's so dumb he can't even grab his own ass with both hands."
Pointing out the stupidity of others -- as in the film clips -- has a kind of delicious arrogance: "Lookit me! I know better than that!" It can make you laugh. It can make you cry. But I wonder to what extent it will make anyone think.
Stupidity, as far as I can figure out, has no definitive boundaries -- no lines or edges. And the same can be said for a format considered intelligent. There is no demarcation beyond which anyone is smart or stupid, no matter how hard any academic institution or beer-guzzling good ol' boy might try to suggest otherwise. There are circumstances and what we bring to them.
Can we help? Maybe so ... so let's share whatever wealth we may possess, not with an eye to standing taller, but rather with an eye to informing the scene. When did ego-tripping ever improve much? But information can be useful ... right information, wrong information, all kinds of information. There is no demarcation line: To recognize stupidity is to recognize intelligence; to recognize intelligence is to recognize stupidity. It's a package deal and each of us has his or her own package.
I see nothing wrong with having a good laugh and shedding a few incredulous tears, but in the end, I think it behooves everyone to lend what assistance they may and set aside the intelligence or stupidity they may perceive. If I help you, I also help me. If you help me, you also help you...and a little at a time, the need for "I" and "you," the demarcation lines we draw, no longer carry their compelling force.