Friday, 10 April 2009

Definition of Stupid

Recently a friend introduced me to a new definition of the word stupid. As he is a person with acute perspicacity and power of discernment that borders on the supernatural, I generally take his words seriously and consider it a gross disservice to global enlightenment if I didn’t share his views with the world.

Now the word stupid as I had understood it, meant dull, slow-witted, dense, obtuse, a bit soft in the head and all those adjectives that we normally associate with people with below average intelligence, who can’t do their work properly as well as those who annoy us and practically everyone else we consider beneath our social level.

Moreover, stupidity is a quality most often seen in other people and rarely seen in our selves.
When he referred to the head of the company as extremely stupid however, it aroused my interest somewhat, as I thought it a rather harsh judgment on a kindly old man with decades of experience, although when he proceeded to criticise the rest of the board of directors and managers also as stupid, I reckoned there must be more to the word stupid than met my understanding.

Stupid, according to him, does not mean simpleminded or unintelligent. These characteristics could all be remedied with a little instruction and logical explanation. For instance if my maid fails to do her work properly, it is not because she is stupid as we’re inclined to believe, but because I’m stupid for failing to show her how to do her job properly or give her a clear understanding of what I mean by ‘properly.’

If, after proper training and instruction, she still fails to clean the house right, then clearly stupidity is not the issue here but her unwillingness to work, in which case I would be stupid to expect better results or to keep her at all.

The head of the company according to my friend is stupid because he smokes. I would argue it’s just a bad habit. After all cigarette smoking is addictive.

His argument however, goes like this. A person who smokes but does not know the dangers of smoking, does so based on ignorance. However, the head of the company knows that billions of dollars of research had gone to show the dangers of tobacco smoking: moreover they are printed in big letters clearly and explicitly on the packets as warnings to smokers.
To continue to smoke whilst knowing its potential health hazards to the self and others is plain stupid.

Hence, stupidity by definition is the wilful disregard or deliberate abrogation of knowledge, not because of lack of learning or intelligence (that would be blissful ignorance), but through persistently doltish refusal to pay attention to or afford respect for one’s actions. To be honest I’m inclined to agree.

By this definition it is safe to say that most of the people walking this planet are therefore stupid, quite stupid, very stupid or extremely stupid, depending on their degrees of deliberate self-disregard and self-respect (in the sense of respecting one’s own actions and consequences.)

In this country for instance, stupidity is the underlying lack of consistency between words and actions, intention and implementation, manifesting as dishonesty, lack of discipline and disregard for rules and regulations that is the nation’s trademark.

Stupidity in our leaders give birth to empty promises, shameless behaviour and a propensity to put on weight once they assume power - seeing their status as a license for over indulgence than a call for hard work.

This after all is a country where the industry minister refuses to ratify the international treaty to control and reduce tobacco use because it would be less money for the state coffers while knowing that tobacco contributes to 10% of all deaths in Indonesia, a burden to the health service and a significant drain on a family’s monthly income that could be put to better use. Moreover, the industry does nothing for the welfare of the tobacco farmers that could just as easily switch to less toxic and more profitable crops.

Instead, while the rest of the world has given up tobacco because everybody knows that smoking kills and does a lot of other bad things, we continue to produce and promote it because our government insists it’s good for the country’s health.

Now that, is really stupid.

(March 2009)

1 comment:

  1. Yep, while smoking rates are dropping in the developed world, the opposite is happening in Indonesia. It's hard for the government to run a serious "No Smoking" campaign because the benefits of the industry far outweigh the costs - it'll be a different story if every person there is covered by public health insurance. There's probably going to be a public outcry as well if the industry is more stringently regulated - who's going to sponsor those countless events?

    Thanks for mentioning the tobacco industry in Indonesia for this topic, what a perfect example of stupidity!


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