How Dumb Are You?


I can already hear the myriad obscene, insulting remarks flying around, the cursing and the ill wish towards me. But before you get carried away, let me clear the air a little bit. This is not about whether you have a college degree or not; this is not even about which school you got your college degree from. It doesn’t even matter how smart people think you are; it matters very little what you think of yourself. What matters most is how your actions, your decisions affect you, your family, your neighborhood, your community, your city, your state, your country; how those decisions impact society.

Answer this poll before reading further

How dumb are you, really?

Consider the following scenario; you are the top attorney in the nation. Everybody knows that. Clients who can afford you know they already win the case before the trial even begins, irrespective of the crime. So, you (& society at large) would say you are a very intelligent and successful attorney, right? No argument here. Now imagine you are hired to defend a double-offense criminal, rapist-murderer; as the world expects, you would win that case too; you are that good. If anybody were to ask you under the described scenario, how dumb are you, you would think that individual is joking, insane or dumb, right?

Until of course the double-offense criminal you just got acquitted kidnaps your daughter, rapes her and kills her. Prior to that tragedy, you were being lauded as smart, intelligent, successful. You thought so; society thought so. How dumb are you again? Your actions (or inactions), not your education (although that may help), not your wealth (that may help too), are the gauge to use to answer that question. If your words and/or your actions are detrimental to you, to your family or to society, you are as dumb as it gets.

Whether you’re in a position of influence –at least what society construes as such – or not, your words, your actions, your decisions impact your life and society every day. Everyone, every individual on the face of the earth says things, does something that impact him/her and everyone else on earth. The general consensus would admit that the President of the United States – or anyone of importance, by society’s dictate – could (and has) impact not just his life but everyone else’s or a great majority of people on earth. No one would argue that, not even his foes.

But you’re no president; by society’s dictate, you may be worth zilch and yet your words, your actions (or inactions) could have similar or comparable impact on society as the president’s. How could that possibly be? Let’s look at a few scenarios with either negative or positive impact on a country or even the world. Barack Obama was conceived and born at a time when interracial relationships were frown upon, prohibited in most states, punishable by incarceration, public humiliation, etc. His mother’s action – to carry the pregnancy through term instead of opting for an abortion – had far reaching implication (even his mother couldn’t foresee), mainly her son grew up to become the first black president in the United States, fortunately a positive outcome for the country, for the world even.

Similarly when Martin Luther King Jr was stabbed in the chest with a sharp letter opener by Izola Ware Curry on September 20, 1958 during a book signing in a Harlem book store – to promote his latest published work Strive Toward Freedom – the action (and knowledge) of the two officers (Al Howard and Phil Romano) who arrived on the scene most certainly saved Mr. King’s life. It took the Chief Surgeon Aubre de Lambert Maynard to have to open King’s chest to extract the object which tip was touching his aorta. King reported in a posthumous autobiography that if he had sneezed during all those hours of waiting, ‘your aorta would have been punctured and you would have drowned in your own blood’, according to Dr. Maynard. Needless to point out Mr. King’s many accomplishments following the failed assassination attempt.

Those two examples emphasize the positive outcome emanating from actions, in the case of Martin Luther King total strangers, that have impacted a nation, and the world.

As you go about your life every day, consider that your actions (and inactions) are as important as the individual who occupies the Oval office; weigh your words, your actions every one of your decisions for sooner or later you or someone you love will become the beneficiary or the victim. Then and only then will you be able to answer how dumb (or smart) you really are.

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