An ancient insult as a way of life
“Cleisthenes, you are an idiot!” humphed Anaxagoras and marched angrily away.
In Ancient Greece, being called a “private citizen”, i.e. an “idiot” was considered an utmost insult. To proclaim that you did not care about public life was dishonoring to say the least, for the very basis of democracy was the unity of decisions for the good of all, taken by the people themselves. Only caring for the good of yourself was selfish, to say the least, and above all…idiotic.
In the present day, an idiot has evolved to mean an imbecile, an utterly foolish or senseless person. But it also retains its initial meaning of a self-centered being. And truth be told, we live in a world surrounded by idiots. Multiplying by the day, especially as the ascent of technology simply enables people to isolate themselves all the more from any social contact. Even Albert Einstein had expressed his certainty about the infinite nature of human stupidity, yet he too feared “the day technology will surpass our human interaction, [as then] the world will have a generation of idiots.”
Today, there are so frequent instances in our daily lives where you at one point or other find yourself agreeing with Bertrand Russell and acknowledging that “the trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt”.
Indeed all these idiots out there, they all behave so arrogantly, certain that they are so sleek, and can do nothing wrong. They are geniuses who can’t even write or speak in their own language, let alone a foreign one; who proclaim fluency in English, for example, and can’t even write a decent sentence or understand half an elaborate one. They are people who think they are the only ones who have something important to do and expect you to be on stand-by, ready to server their every whim or praise their every effort and minor “achievement”. People who have no shame, no conscience, and no knowledge.
They are the people who can’t do their job properly – like ensure a steady Internet connection or promptly inform you of changes that affect you – and this influences your own life (and very often your very sanity). We can’t change all the stupid people in this world. Even if we do take on them one idiot at a time. But when their poor performance encroaches on your livelihood, then it does become your problem too. And the worst of all: no matter how much you twist and shout, there is absolutely nothing you can do about them. If they can’t see the need to change themselves, no one can shine a light on them either. All you can do is hope for the world to change. But then you’ll be the fool expecting an improvement, in a world that is slowly devouring itself and everyone is simply awaiting that the other will be the one to act.
“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
― Albert Einstein