Opinion: Growing wiser with age?


We’re all prone to cast the aspersion. No matter how mature we have become or imagine ourselves to be, we feel the need, from time to time, to label our fellow humans as idiots. They cut us off in traffic. They go through the 12-items-or-less line with 27 items. They say something on their social media feeds that is so disturbingly inconsistent with our own studied and thoughtful views that we know that there must be something wrong with them. Perhaps they write an entirely incomprehensible column such that we wonder who, in their right minds, would have conferred a doctorate upon the writer. We determine them to be idiots, each and every!

Definitionally, an idiot is medically determined to be one suffering from an intellectual disability. Yet, we probably intend it as a pejorative. “Those folks are just plain stupid.” So far, stupid has not been defined as a protected class of Americans, so we evaluate applicability individually, based upon circumstance. Math would dictate that half of the people in any room are smarter than the other half. But most of us are brighter sometimes and not-so-bright at other times.

Experience, prudence and education all enter the equation. The hubris of youth can lead to an abundance of kidiotic behavior. With each passing year, the expectations increase but we are likely to tolerate imprudence from youngsters while expecting more from those of us a bit longer in the tooth. Sure, I.Q. is a weighty variable on our preferences and actions. But is it the most important? Does it ever seem not to matter? If we all make suboptimal choices from time to time, is carelessness, disregard, immaturity or aggression to blame? Are we doomed to grow from kidiot to idiot? If not, how do we avoid it?


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