Time for a change

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

I’m not that smart. I’m nowhere near as intelligent as people give me credit for. I used to be smart: Eidetic memory, a seemingly inexhaustible bucket of trivia, glib, adaptive. I’m not anymore. I’m not dumb. I’m more like high functioning average.

But one thing I’m not is stupid: willfully ignorant. I have certain aspects to my character that make me predisposed toward certain attitudes, but I’ve never been the type to turn a blind eye to information. I very rarely say, “But that’s the way we’ve always done it.” I remember things I’ve observed, how things came to be the way they are, and why they function the way they do.

I realized something today. The reason people are stupid (refusing to learn in the face of changing information) is because they’re afraid. They’re afraid change will make things worse. They think change is permanent, and if a mistake is made, they’ll suffer. To me, change is growth, and the only reason organic things don’t grow is that they are dying. Of course, rust is a form of growth, but I notice rust grows better on the unmoving parts.

Look around you. Do you see examples where willfully ignorant people are making your world worse?

I see it. I see how fear of uncertainty stifles improvement. Look around you. Do you think the reason nearly every local incumbent won in our local elections is because things are so great around here or because people are afraid?

We know that the economy is as bad as it’s been around here in decades. We know we have the highest jobless rate in the country. We know that what we have is not working. We’ve lost services like police and fire. We’ve given our tax money to corporations. We can’t repair roads because the money for sewers was … moved.

I recognize the fear that makes stupidity. But why do the rest of us continue to let the stupid people undermine us? Probably because, eventually, high functioning average people see their efforts are for naught.