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I’m An Idiot

I’m an idiot. If you tell me that a wall is wet, I need to touch it before I believe.

I’m an idiot. If you tell me that a wall is wet, I need to touch it before I believe.

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That is why I touch stories; even the ones that I know are dirty. Because the mind of an idiot is one dimensional, I do not think that they will dirty me.
Contrary to what most people think, idiots have some economic importance. I’m not saying this because I’m an idiot. It is just a fact of life.
I learned that at high school. I read in Modern Biology that houseflies had economic importance. “Houseflies?” I asked, in great shock.
One of the economic importances of houseflies is that their maggots help to break down compost. I never thought of the significance of that role in life’s cycle. Without the maggots breaking down the compost, there won’t be nutrients for plants to feed on.
Everyday, I keep learning. That is the least of things the world expects from an idiot like me. As long as I learn, I will not give up on myself. And I hope you won’t.
Aaron Levenstein said that “Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.”
If you look at it, it is not only statistics that are like bikinis. Knowledge is like a bikini. Information is like a bikini. News is like a bikini. Idea is like a bikini. Our problem is that out of our excitement about what is suggested, we fail to see that there is even more that is concealed.
Some facts are as dramatic as they come. Only idiots see the need to enhance them.
There are several advantages in being an idiot. One is that you can argue with anyone, especially idiots like you. In fact, that is the greatest advantage. Those who are fortunate not to be idiots, I mean, the smart asses, may have something to get off their chests; but they cannot. They have to meet certain expectations imposed on them by the society. What a restrictive life that must be!
But for the lucky ones like us, idiots in our own right, we have the right to make fools of ourselves. We are not self conscious. We have no exaggerated sense of importance. We have no integrity to protect. Sometimes, if you really look at it, what we say, do, or think, may just be an expression of our inadequacies. We may say a thing that may sound stupid to others. But to us, it is as smart as it gets. The reason may surprise you. It may not be that we don’t care. It may just be that words failed us. The way words fail us is also the way our brain fail us.
At other times, though, it may just be that our fears took control of us. Fears have a way of turning decent men and women into mere idiots. Imagine what it does to idiots like me. As idiots, we fear a lot of things; the greatest of which is change. We fear change in the world we have come to know. The new world in the horizon may be better, but we rather stay in the one we have learned how to navigate in. We love this world where we think we understand the forces of good and evil, even if we are suffocating in that world.
Another factor that controls the lives of we, the idiots, is our prejudice. Our notion of what is right or wrong is so strong that we hate any challenge to it. That worldview is what stabilizes us. It may not be making our lives better but we do not want any shake up. It is our prejudice that defines us. We fear losing ourselves if we lose our prejudices. Even when we are idiots, we get some comfort in it. More important than our comfort is our immunity. As an idiot in good standing, I am immune from thinking.
Contrary to what you’ve heard, an idiot does not want to be loved. If an idiot wants to be loved, all he needs to do is to keep quiet. And everyone will say, “Oh, how adorable he is.” If you think of it, all idiots are adorable when their mouths are shut.
Idiots like me are needed in every society. We define the boundaries of each society -the boundaries of intelligence, kindness, decency and love. Believe it or not, idiots like me have passion.  Sometimes one wishes that the smart asses can borrow some passion from idiots like me. Maybe if they did that, they can convert some of us idiots to what they are – whatever that thing is.
Because many underestimate idiots like me, they fail to see that idiots have their heroes too. In fact, idiots are more passionate about their heroes than the smart asses. Because idiots have no hope of becoming heroes themselves, they fight with all their powers to protect theirs. It is in their heroes that idiots find their essence.
I am an idiot. And I am proud of it. In spite of the saliva thrown at me, the venom of those disgusted by what I represent, I am what I am. And I think those who are lucky not to be amongst the idiots, should be proud of what they are, too.
There is enough room in the world for all of us to live in. The world has managed to joggle both the idiots and the smart asses for centuries. The idiots may have weighed the world down but they surely have not knocked it off its orbit.
So let us, the idiots, be. Let us wallow in our idiocy.
The idiot says that nobody is a saint. But he does not mean that corruption is good and must be encouraged. He is only trying to rationalize and compartmentalize things. In the context of his mind, the idiot wants to save something, someone, somehow. He wants a standard but is scared of pursuing excellence. The idiot cannot connect the lowering of standards with the slow rate of advancement. That is when you find the idiot taking solace in saying that stealing from the people and investing at home is better than stealing and siphoning the money abroad. The idiot is incapable of connecting embezzlement in our system to why nothing works, why people are dying needlessly, and why everyone is perambulating.
The idiot says that incremental progress is good enough. Yes, to the idiot, it is okay to take time to get there. After all, it did take America some 200 years to get to where they are now. You don’t blame us, the idiots. We know that Haiti has had 200 years of existence and has gotten nowhere. We know that Mexico has had 200 years of attempted development and hasn’t gotten anywhere. We just want to believe. We don’t want to be hurried. If America is that good, we ask, why are they still trying to build a more perfect union? We, idiots, cannot stand the hassles of thinking that maybe, just maybe, we need a good foundation before we can hope that time will take us there.
An idiot privately complains that some characters in his group are desecrating the good name of his group. When another idiot calls out these characters, the original idiot complains that calling them out exposes his group’s dirty linen. We, the idiots, do not have the capacity to blame the characters that create the tales, which everyone knows, including us, the idiots. We are more comfortable blaming the messenger.
I am an idiot. I detest nothing the way I detest absolutes. That smart ass called Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men are created equal.” Even though he owned slaves, one of whom he was sleeping with, when he wrote that. That high standard, that belief in the ideal, even when it was not visible and feasible, led to emancipation. We, idiots, hate emancipation. We love what we are and we want to remain the same.
It may help the rest of you to pause, once in a while, and think not just about the ugly things we, the idiots, represent. Think of what you will miss without us. Think of how we help define you and give you that sense of self righteousness.
You got to accept it – there are some beautiful things about idiots like me. Let that humble you.
A version of this piece was first published by

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