As I was perusing my usual social media sites last night, I can’t even begin to tell you the number of quotes and pictures I came across depicting the stupidity of people. I stopped counting at ten – but some of the most popular ones were, “Duct tape can’t fix stupid;” “Don’t argue with stupid people;” and the always affectionate Maxine as she states, “I have met my quota for stupid people this year, I am no longer taking applications, thank you!” While I enjoy a good laugh and yes, at times have made a comment directed at the stupidity of someone in my office or a total stranger in a grocery store or on the road, I began to contemplate the question and the difference between stupidity and ignorance. I think it’s time to make it clear.
People in and of themselves are not stupid – some of the decisions they make may very well be, and some of their actions may be, but that does not automatically label them stupid. If that was the case, every single person on the planet would be considered stupid and there would not be a place big enough to hold us all. Think about it – when was the last time you made the wrong decision about an event in your life. You had to suffer the consequences – but does that make YOU stupid? No – just human. I’ve made many stupid decisions in my life – but I won’t bore you with them all – if I did, this would be the longest blog post in history. But let’s just say that I learned from every single one and I hope it has made me a better person.
Which brings us to the term ignorance – being ignorant has gotten a bad rap over the last few years; however, the official definition of ignorance is “a state of being uninformed (lack of knowledge). I’m the first to admit that I can be ignorant about things, like the inner workings of cars, politics, statistics, and why it is easier to break into a freakin’ house than to get a damn pill bottle open when you need it. But I digress. We are all ignorant – recognizing that is how we begin to learn.
When I decided to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and minor in Forensic Science, I thought my years of watching CSI and Law and Order would allow me to breeze right through the program. Unfortunately, halfway through the first course I realized how little I knew and how ignorant I really was about the whole subject. Once I realized that I was not CSI’s Catherine Willows incarnate, I opened my mind and was able to learn the material. As a result, I graduated with honors and will be finishing my Master’s Degree in Organizational Management in three weeks. See….ignorance + open mind = endless possibilities!
Let me leave you with this final thought. The next time you are tempted to call someone stupid, think about the actions in your own life. Stupid decisions do not create stupid people – merely people who are taking the long way to learning the lesson they need to.