The world is diverse, full of different perspectives, beliefs, and ways to live life. Growing up in school, we do not realize this as kids and teenagers. We see the world through our own eyes, our past, and experiences.
Through school we find these different lives clashing and contradicting each other, failing to meet our reasoning and ideals. This is the beginning of what we call “stupidity.” We begin to label those who disagree with us and trigger our emotions.
Regardless whether you believe ‘stupidy’ is real or not, we call people stupid when we are hurting in some shape or form. Here are a few example situations when we are either in pain, or when it causes us pain:
“I don’t understand why that person would pull in front of me in traffic! Why are so many drivers stupid?”
In this situation, we are either:
- Upset that we could have been killed on the road from mistakes we do not understand.
- The person that pulls in front of you is an inconvenience, making you late for work, school, and so on.
For many people, commuting is the worst part of the day, so it only makes sense for us to blame others on the road due to our frustrations. We will talk about this example in the future.
“Look at how wrong they are living their life, look at that stupid kid eating a rock for a mountain dew.”
In this situation, we are hurt by frustration. You “clearly” see how eating a rock is not worth a mountain dew, and we feel frustrated by this because why would the kid not understand this logic?
What about if this kid was your kid? Your empathy and protection over the health of your son or daughter causes confusion and irritation.
“How could he be so stupid to think that I would hurt him?”
This pain is a feeling of betrayal, someone who you trust does not trust you back. This loss entices us to be less empathetic towards the other perspective.
“Why is my dog stupid? He keeps jumping on the couch no matter what I do to stop him.”
This form of pain is either to protect our belongings (such as the couch) or to have authority over our pets for convenience.
Each of these situations are “painful” in some manner, but do you see how all of this pain comes from not understanding the situation?
Regardless whether you believe that stupidity is real or not, these moments are painful to us. It is important to investigate how judging others as “stupid” will effect our own lives.
We will dig deeper about what it means to be stupid, and how understanding their motives will make any pain we feel flow away.
What does it mean to be stupid?
This is the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of stupid. This seems to be common sense, but I want you to take into consideration, what is common sense? Is common sense a universal standard, a law written in stone, or is it a subjective measurement?
The short answer; what you define as stupid is based on what you think ‘common sense’ or ‘intelligence’ is.
In other words, we are going back to the same situation: reality, the kid eating the rock, is not living by your standards of intelligence. Reality is not living up to what your mental model or ‘map’ wants it to be. Therefore, calling people stupid is another form of morality (what we think should or should not happen.)
Here is an example: Why is driving more stressful than walking?
If you are walking on the street or in the hallway, you can communicate or say “Excuse me.”
“Sorry I’m in a rush, I need to grab some water before class starts.”
Someone turns around, sprints, and bumps into you saying,
“I forgot my briefcase back at my apartment!”
Conflicts can still happen, but we are more understanding when we can communicate.
No communication = calling each other stupid
Contrary to when you are walking on the street, there is no communication between other cars when you are driving! Besides an occasional hand wave, blinker, or middle finger, you have no idea what’s going on in the heads of other drivers. This creates a nasty soup of hatred, stress, and confusion when there are problems on the road, someone pulls in front of you in traffic, or turns without giving you enough notice, and so on.
In other words, when you are calling another driver stupid, this happens because there is no communication, you can’t hear the reason for their spontaneous braking or U Turn, the only thing you have to work with is your own mind. Your mind makes up a story for why the other person is driving so ridiculous.
You don’t know whether than person passed you for the rush, whether his daughter is sick and is speeding to the hospital, or if he didn’t know the speed limit. You have to make up the story.
You are angry at yourself
Here is the plot twist. The reality is; you are not angry at them, you are angry at yourself! You are angry at the story in your mind, your explanation. We interpret everything in our own way and everything we do is a reflection of ourselves. As you are reading this blog, you cannot hear my voice or my tone, so you will use your own voice and tone to interpret the words, leading to your own self-reflection. This is the nature of the human mind. Not only do you find this underlying miscommunication happening in politics, but also in relationships, education, religion, and so forth.
This is why decades of twisted words and misunderstanding will lead to hundreds of different religions, several political parties, and schools of thought fighting each-other, each claiming superiority, calling one another stupid, mislead, and inferior.
No matter what you say or do, no matter how clever your explanation is, there will always be misunderstanding, there will always be someone who misinterprets you and your intentions, because they reflect on themselves and their own past. They look at the world through their “lens,” their beliefs and assumptions, and it will “feel right” to them no matter how true or false their beliefs are!
Now let’s expand the driving example into other aspects of life, such as the kid eating a rock for a Mountain Dew. Imagine that instead of driving different cars, we are driving our own “meat ships” our own “meat cars” in a gross way of looking at it. You can see the outside of their meat car, you can see the kid eating the rock, but you can’t see the “driver” in their head. Is it not the case that you cannot read their mind or see their rationale behind their actions.
Since you cannot read their mind or their rationale, you will use your own beliefs or story to explain what is happening, and chances are, they are not using the same standards or measurements or your definition of “common sense.” This is profound: the fundamental reason we call people stupid, is because WE do not understand them.
The same occurs for anger; we are angry when we do not understand the underlying patterns or motives for why things are going “wrong.” Even evil; evil is a blanket label we put on things we don’t understand.
“Why is that person stealing?”
If we understand them, we may find they are stealing because they have so much suffering, emptiness, incompleteness, or desperation in their lives that there is enough motivation in their logic, emotions, and physical need to survive to steal and hurt others. A person who steals is a person really crying for help, even if they don’t realize it themselves. If we don’t understand the thief, we label them with “evil intentions.”
The reality is, the kid eating the rock felt it was important enough to eat that rock:
- To be funny, to attract attention to make him feel better about himself,
- It could be to respond to peer pressure to maintain his self-esteem.
- He could be “addicted” enough to sugary drinks such as Mountain Dew that he is willing to put his body at harm.
Everything happens perfectly
The beautiful thing about existence is that all imperfections happen perfectly. Everyone, regardless of how much or little they know, will make decisions exactly the way they should based on their level of understanding or motives. Everyone believes they are doing the “right” thing, even if it is something “wrong” such as stealing, because the desperation in his body and mind outweighs the “good.”
This is not to be mistaken as me telling you that you shouldn’t do anything good for the world or that you should not change people. If you have a desire to do it, go for it!
However, understanding the underlying nature of stupidity, evil, “insanity,” and so on will help you be at peace with yourself as you make a difference. The more you learn and are willing to understand others, the more compassionate you will be for others, the more you will intuitively know when to say something, when to be quiet, and when to encourage them to think for themselves and derive the answer in their own experience.
Over time, you will be able to speak in their language to express your concerns.
Lastly, here is an important point to be made; this is not a word game. Even if you try to understand other people, there will still be times when you are annoyed by how they act. It will take time and practice, just like exercising a muscle, to understand others both intellectually and emotionally.
That being said, here are a few questions you can ask when you are annoyed by someone (or something):
- Who (or what) do you think is stupid?
- What are they doing that is stupid?
- Why do you think they are stupid?
- What are you misunderstanding about this situation?
Share your insights with us! – Justin