As I write this, Turkey Thursday has ceased to be, and the world is in the midst of Black Friday. As the half of the world east of me has already swung out under the sun to dry, the news is just about what we expected. People are going crazy buying stuff, just like ever, only more so. At least so far no deaths have been reported [editor’s note: A Nordstrom employee in Chicago was shot and killed on Black Friday].
It’s consistent with all the other recent news. Last week’s grand jury ruling concerning the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., fit the general pattern. There’s something wrong with people.
Now, I knew this already. I’ve been saying for years that stupidity happens, and we have to get a grip on it. It isn’t enough to say we all should strive to be smarter than we are. That won’t do. That’s like living on the banks of a river and saying we should strive to stay dry. No, we should anticipate that we will not stay dry. We will be flooded. All rivers flood. All rivers are stupid.
All people are stupid. Stupidity is as stupidity does, and stupidity is always doing. The best thing you can do, therefore, is to learn how stupidity works so you can see it coming at your head and duck in time. Fortunately, since we are all stupid, we all have the ability to know how to be stupid, and theoretically can spot signs of it in others, by using “insight.” There’s no one who is so smart that they have no way to relate to stupid. We can all relate to it, by looking inward and finding some.
Clearly, no one should live anywhere there are human beings. That’s the message I’m learning. Because the adults have left the planet.
An illustration was provided this week by news of a certain unfortunate Florida man. He had been repeatedly charged with assault and domestic violence only to have the charges set aside until, after a heated “argument” with his wife and dog over a missing lighter, he pointed a cocked pistol at each in turn to let them know he meant business, then shot himself to death while uncocking said pistol.
While we’re on the subject, now is probably the only time it will ever make sense for me to ask this question: Suppose you are married and own a dog, and something valued of yours, say a special, lucky cigarette lighter or marble collection, is found to be missing. Do you A) beat your spouse, C) threaten your dog or D) shoot yourself in the face? If you answered “What happened to B?” you are correct.
It’s easy when hearing such news stories to think how much the outcome was deserved, but that sort of reaction misses the fundamental truth of the matter: That what happened leading up to this outcome will happen again and again, and over again, and we need to figure out what went wrong.
What went wrong was a lack of proper adult supervision.
If there had been proper adult supervision, the prior charges of domestic abuse and assault would not have been simply set aside with no other consequences. Just because you decide not to give the child time-outs doesn’t mean you let him go right back to whacking Mary with a stick. You could take the stick away from him. Or the gun, as the case may be. Why was this child of a man allowed a gun?
Some people say, “The police should have done more.” This is precisely the problem: This insistence that it’s a policing problem. To the extent that we all assume that the police are the only people who play the role of adults in these situations, the rest of us are not being adults. We are the kids on the playground shouting, “I’m telling!” And it doesn’t do to leave the role of adulthood to the police, because they are no better at it than the most immature of us.