I am certain we all have complaints about “stupid people” we encounter. You know, those people who do not seem to have a lick of sense, incapable of handling even the smallest simplest tasks.
Yeah, we all know people like that.
Even so, most of these people consider themselves pretty smart. They have the tools they need to get through their daily life without bringing the entire world crashing down on all our heads.
So, we have this bitter conundrum: stupid people thinking they are really, really smart.
Believe it or not, that is ALL of us.
I used to complain bitterly about the drivers on the road. Almost all of them seemed to be driving in a haze, not paying attention to things around them and being a nuisance – a very dangerous nuisance – to others on the road just trying to get to… well, wherever it is they were going.
Admittedly, I still complain a bit about bad drivers but not as much as I used to. I have come to realize WHY they are such poor drivers: most people simply hate driving.
Some of them hate it with a passion! There is any number of things they would rather be doing and driving is never very high on their list even though it is a necessity in the modern world.
I, on the other hand, love to drive. I am always checking the mirrors, knowing the traffic flow around me, using my turn signals properly, and so forth. I can usually tell when a driver is going to turn long before they put on a blinker or hit their brakes. I try to stay completely in tune to my surroundings when propelling a lethal hunk of metal at high speeds on a public thoroughfare.
Most people drive completely oblivious to their surroundings. Not a judgment, just an observation.
Many complain that the distraction of the cell phone is what’s to blame but I can vouch for the presence of inattentive drivers long before there were these modern distractions. The radio, a newspaper, a book, animatedly talking with a passenger in the vehicle… all these distractions served the same blame function as the cellphones of today, and we have had them for years.
It is not the fault of the cellphone, it is the fault of forcing people to get behind a wheel when they would much rather be doing something else; anything else!
We are not all wired to do the same things – probably why auto-driving cars will be such a boon to our autophobic drivers.
This is not all just about driving. This same pattern is to be found in other areas of our lives proving that, once again, we are all wired differently.
In my case, it is in interpersonal communications.
My wife, being a teacher, has plenty of skills in dealing with people.
One day my wife was talking about an interaction she had with an irate parent. After describing the problem, she asked how I would handle it.
I gave it my best shot, as they say, but it wasn’t very good. My wife told me then how she handled it to create a positive outcome for herself, the student, and the parent.
Hm, I thought about it, trying to comprehend both the steps and the line of reasoning. After a few minutes I had to ask her to repeat the steps she took.
And five minutes later, I was still struggling.
The method she had chosen was so far removed from the way my mind is wired that I could find nothing about it to latch onto. Try as I might, it just kept slipping away like some dream faintly-remembered on waking.
Given enough time and coaching, I could probably manage to, if not learn that technique, at least evolve some sort of workaround solution my mind could hold onto.
This is a thing I think many of us struggle with: cutting each other some slack about what we are doing in the world as opposed to what we think others perceive of us.
We may think we are succeeding nicely in many ways while others are seeing only a dismal failure.
Not all of us can be Einstein – nor should we be – nor should all of us be expected by the millions of drivers around us to fit their expectations of a good driver.
Those bad at something you cherish might actually be very efficient plumbers, mechanics, cooks, bakers, seamstresses, social workers, dream-weavers, shamans, and so forth.
We can none of us be good at all things. A few things, yes, but everything, no.
We should each be allowed to be stupid in something because we all ARE stupid in something.
But we’re also very good at something else, whatever that may be.
And we should cut each other a little slack, okay?