“I can’t believe she did that!” “What the hell is he thinking?” “Any idiot would have better sense than that!” “Are they all taking dumb pills?” “What’s the matter with these people?” “Why am I working with a bunch of morons?” “He doesn’t have the sense God gave a goose!”
Do any of these phrases sound familiar? Of course they do. They’re words we hear – or even use – almost every day. At times it looks like the world is being overtaken by idiots and to top it off, they’re all reproducing! God help us all!
Isn’t there anything we can do to put a few smarts into some of these folk’s heads? Isn’t there something we can do?
So many goof-balls, so little time. Oh where, oh where shall we begin? OK, just as an off-the-wall thought, let’s start with the only person in the world over whom we have any control at all. That’d be us, right? So let’s talk about us. I’ll start with me.
Not too many years ago, I occasionally used the same types of phrases you read in the first paragraph. Sometimes they were directed toward my boss, sometimes toward my fellow workers. More frequently they were referencing some of the strange things the participants in my classes said or did. Yeah, I cut ‘em down. I questioned (in private conversations, of course) their mental capabilities and common sense. Behind the closed office door, I wasn’t always a nice person.
And sometimes I even said these derogatory things even though I didn’t completely believe them. Even though I knew they weren’t really true. Why? Well, because. Because someone else in “my group” had already made a similar comment and naturally I wouldn’t want anyone to ever think that I wasn’t an integral, conforming member of “my group” so I dutifully added my reinforcement to the conversation. It wasn’t a nice thing to do.
And then – over time – I learned. I learned that no one is an “idiot”. That no one is talking stupid pills. That no one is “just breathin’ good air”. No one. I learned that every person that I come into contact with is doing as good as they can do at that particular moment.
That “moment” in turn, has been shaped by this individual’s genetics and the sum of all of his or her experiences up to now. It is the result of all of the mental programming that has occurred in his or her lifetime. It is additionally strongly influenced by any significant events which may now be occurring in this person’s life. Events such as illness, money worries, disintegration of relationships or other family problems. Any of these will naturally disrupt a person’s train of thought and interfere with his or her ability and perhaps even motivation, to reason logically.
I learned that no matter how much I wanted someone else to think as I do, perform as I do, respond to situations or problems as I do – it just ain’t agonna happen. These other people – my boss, my friends, my co-workers, my students, my relatives, the salesperson, the waitress – are not me. They’re them. And as “them”, they’re going to do the only thing they can do – that they know how to do at that particular moment.
Many of them could probably do better – sometime, but not right now. Many of them could probably exercise a little better judgment in the things they say and do. Sometime, but not right now. Many of them could probably benefit from some serious self-evaluation of their thought processes and maybe even their values or morals. Sometime, but not right now.
“Right now” is all they have to work with. It’s all we have to work with. It’s all I have to work with – for right now. I can live with that. How about you?
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