Understanding Stupidity #3 – How To Get The Better Of It.

Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed- in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I am going to continue with the same quote as last week, but concentrate on a different sentence.

Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.

Naive people like me think that if we can just say the right words, they will realize their error and quit being stupid. After several years of trying to do just that, Bonhoeffer was finally convinced that that approach was useless. I think maybe we should take his words to heart and just quit trying to use reason and morality to turn them around. Another approach is needed.

The first step is to stop them from putting stupid people in our national government. It took a national defeat for Germans to purge themselves of their national stupidity. I need to study more about that German turnaround, to see if there are some specific things that we can do.

I do know about 10% of the German population were Nazi party members in 1943. I suspect that is very similar to the extreme right-wing groups in the U.S. today. That means 90% were not big backers of Hitler’s regime, but instead, just didn’t raise their voices.

Sitting back and doing nothing is NOT the way to think in these times. We should learn that lesson from our German brethren. Before you jump to conclusions, I am not saying that all those who are so anti-everything are all Nazis.

I realize the there are a significant number who just don’t like being told what to do, even if it is good for them and the “common good”. I also realize that there are many others who are simply terrified of the changes happening in the U.S. today. To them, there are just too many people who now want their place at the table of American prosperity. The naysayers don’t have a “build a larger table” mentality that will give us the prosperity that they so adamantly cling to what they have today. If we want to keep people from doing stupid things, then we must try to convince them that their fixation on fear is doing more harm to them than just letting them go.

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