Stupid is What Stupid Does aka Why You Should Love to Read
Last night I used the word stupid in front of my children. I felt slightly ashamed. I felt as if some word police will soon be knocking on my door demanding that I turn myself in for being a lousy parent and allowing this awful word to cross my lips. In today’s society we are not supposed to admit that there are people out there whose actions leave much to be desired for.
I guess I was frustrated with my son for not wanting to read and for asking me: “Why do I have to read?” He is seven years old. I am sure many would say that it is not a “big deal” (favorite two words these days). It’s not a big deal to miss a sport practice. It is not a big deal to skip on reading books. It is not a big deal to feed your children McDonald’s. It is not a big deal to let kids play video games, hours on end. Hey, we as parents cannot keep up with all the demands thrown at us, we must “let some things go” (another favorite phrase). However, I felt strongly that this is more than the plain desire to control my son’s actions and I needed to explain to him (bluntly maybe) that things are not as simple as that.
So, I called “some people” stupid. I was having flashes of future to come where I permanently damaged my son who is going around calling everyone stupid and people refusing to be friends with him. Then I blinked and the moment passed. I am in charge of teaching this little person the right from wrong in this world. I am also responsible to let him know that he will run into people who will exhibit some “stupid” behavior and he needs to learn how to deal with it. “Stupid is what stupid does” Forest Gump would say. Yes, you may be intelligent but your actions (or what you say) sometimes mean that you are really not thinking. Stupid is not a reflection of one’s ability, people with mental disabilities are not by proxy stupid. Actually, only those who have capacity to think for themselves and learn on a higher level are those who exhibit these “interesting behaviors”.
Here I was, stuck in the perpetual mode of teaching my children, guiding them, my son was giving me a hard time about finishing his library book. Lately he has been refusing to read. As he was progressing towards reading “chapter books” he was initially very excited and read all the time (on the bus, at home, in the car), but lately he was having a hard time sitting down and enjoying a book. So, being an avid reader myself and reading everything from Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto”, to Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” to Nora Roberts’ fun romance novels, I was very frustrated. I was trying to coerce him into reading and later telling him that he needs to do what he’s told and then I realized that forcing the issue was really not the way to go (“Stupid is what stupid does”).
Both my husband and I were now in the kids’ room talking about the benefits of fiction and non-fiction works and reading. My son, who is too wise for his age, was asking questions that were pretty intuitive. “Why do I have to read fiction if I want to be a scientist?” “Why do I have to read when I can just watch the Discovery Channel?” Those were some damn good questions. I told him, bluntly:” You have to read so that you don’t become stupid like some people.” I was shocked at my own words. What did I mean by this? After fumbling to assure my son that I really did not mean that, it occurred to me that maybe I did mean it.
I read a blog post that a twenty-three-year-old woman wrote (name is irrelevant) titled “I am a proud Donald Trump Supporter-Get over it”. In this article she argues that her political views and who she supports should be respected and that no one is entitled to call her a racist or a sexist-bigot simply because she supports Trump. I agree that no-one should be calling her names and it is a free country so she can support whoever she wants. She may be allowed to support Trump and people should not be calling her names or keying her car (she claims that the Trump supporters that openly support him have had this happen to them).
This recent college graduate was giving validity to a campaign that has been demeaning at every step of the way. At the risk of sounding pompous and condescending I would encourage this young lady to read a little, familiarize herself with the world and the history that lead to the current events. For a start she can read Trump’s website and the policies outlined there. His immigration policy calls for a tighter control on immigration and it is stating that 40% of unemployment among African-Americans and the Hispanics (I am assuming he means legal ones) could somehow be solved by curbing immigration. Since most of the immigrant workers are working in the low-paying job sector because majority of these immigrantshave less than the high-school level of education (see Report from Pew Research Center <a href="http://www.pewhispanic.org/2015/03/26/share-of-unauthorized-immigrant-workers-in-production-construction-jobs-falls-since-2007/" target="_hplink">http://www.pewhispanic.org/2015/03/26/share-of-unauthorized-immigrant-workers-in-production-construction-jobs-falls-since-2007/</a> ) , then he must be insinuating that these young African-Americans and Hispanics ( I suppose he is now referring to the legal ones) should be looking for these low-paying jobs that will earn them no more than a minimum wage thus effectively not lifting them out of the poverty levels that they are living in now. Trump’s website also calls for the H1-B visa overhaul. Numbers tell us that the share of the H1-B visa workers is only a small part of the American work force. It is allows for measly 65000 (bachelor degreed) workers to be admitted to the States per year and an additional 20,000 with masters degrees, a speck in the sea of the still high demand for educated work force in the States where employment numbers are in millions. For example, I have heard a speculation that in the State of Connecticut where I live the unemployment percent for engineers is zero based on the information I received from a friend and the HR Person in her company. While this is in no way an accurate number and it is“hear-say” information I can tell you that my friend’s company is having a hard time hiring good engineers. They do not have enough candidates to fill in their open positions (their company does not support hiring candidates with H1-B visa status).
Further I would encourage her to take up a few books and peruse them instead of reading junk on the websites and various blogs discussing only one sided opinions echoing her own sentiments. I would personally recommend the Qur’an (trust me it reads the same as the Bible), the Bible, Sykes-Picot Treaty, letters written to “the Federalist” preceding the voting on the Bill of Rights, perhaps even Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” to understand fully the nature of America, the nature of how dangerous Trump’s hate-mongering speeches are. She needs to really understand the Muslims and the causes of the conflicts in the Middle East (Sykes-Picot Treaty text and many books written on the subject are a good place to start). She needs to understand the deep issues that America has within their own young generation that will be strapped on with the debt and disarray that the present politicians and the business people like Trump will leave them with.
I could recommend books on economy of immigration and how it is important for American progress, books on political games played presently (by both parties) and many others, but then I would really be pompous and condescending.
To fight stupidity, I told my son, is to read and think and imagine. To fight stupidity is to avoid watching what TV propaganda is telling us. To fight stupidity is our ability to learn from the facts that are written down in books that people who studied history and events thoroughly wrote and to critically asses what is being presented to us and not believing only what we are comfortable with.
Books that contain opinions we agree with and also the books that we do not agree with so much are both available in every library, in every town in America, because this is a free country and the books are not banned for stating truths, regardless how uncomfortable they may be. If your library does not have the book you are looking for, they will request it from a neighboring library (at least in my small New England town they will.)This is what distinguishes America from other countries and people who may not have the same choices. There is really no excuse. Drop Facebook, blogs and twitter and Go Forth and Learn!
Finally, I told my son that as important it is to read the non-fiction works, it is just as important to read fiction works, to be able to imagine the world that is good and accepting and free of racism and bigotry. Fiction helps develop imagination and our ability to create wonderful things and to improve our lives.
Stupid is as stupid does or says or writes and this would be the Forest Gump message to the young lady who supports Trump. You are free to do so, but don’t expect me to believe you are not stupid for blindly believing that his stance and his policies would truly #MakeAmericaGreatAgain.