It’s time to put a fork in 2023, learn from the bad, plan for the good, and welcome 2024 with open arms and an optimistic mind. Because, well, that’s all one can do especially when the world is facing two wars, lots of hate, dysfunctional systems (Government, Education, Politics) and more reasons than ever before to sell our little Boyes Hot Springs craftsman and go prevent Narwhal extinction in Greenland while there’s still time.
Don’t let the dumb win. It’s pretty simple, smart people make better decisions, the more you know, the more you think about all sides of a situation and the better your decisions are. Now the problem is when I decide that my way of fighting the dumb is in conflict with others way of life (Religion, Florida, Trump). Let’s treat the tossing of George Santos as the beginning of a movement, the get-rid-of-the-dumb movement.
I met a new couple at a Christmas party this year, we had that cool meeting of the minds which comes from discovering someone who thinks like you do in a small town. As we talked, it became apparent that there were differences (Liberal me vs Conservative them, Agnostic Pantheist me vs Catholic them, Biden me vs Trump them) “OK, so now we know what we can’t talk about, what books are you reading right now?” Long story short, I now have a new contact who might enable me to bring one of my favorite TED talk personalities, Arthur Benjamin, into my classroom in the Spring. And I have a new contact in town which is always nice.
Dumb is, of course, subjective. As in one man’s dumb is another man’s leader but I really think we’re missing a fundamental reality which we all should be able to agree on. Do you think life is better than death? Then work for peace because no matter whose side you’re on in the two wars you have to feel that a live five-year-old is better than a dead five-year-old. And don’t get me started about how it’s God’s way or war is hell because killing the innocent is never justified, never.
2024 is the biggest election year ever (at least 64 countries affecting half the global population) which is great because free elections mean free people but terrible if the people elected are against free people. Let’s speculate for a minute if the dumb win elections in Russia, USA, Taiwan, Pakistan, India, The European Union, Mexico, Iran, UK, South Africa, South Korea, and even Bhutan although I doubt a country that replaced Gross Domestic Product with Gross National Happiness and is the only carbon-negative country in the world would ever elect the dumb. Leaders of the dumb do damage to people and to the planet, they typically play the short game over the long game preferring immediate gratification over long term success. Can you say Climate Change?
But the answer, Walt, what is the answer? Well, let me tell you a little story about my last school board meeting and by last I mean the last one I am ever going to, not the last one I attended. I have known many super smart, super devoted school board members over the years and as I said hello to Anne and John and Catarina and Troy and Celeste I thought about how those five personalities are all super smart people working for the betterment of the students (I have always held that the board and administrators work for me to make my job easier as a teacher). Then the meeting started and between the rules, the personal stories and the humble brags, I almost didn’t make it to the first break when I ran out of the District Office like a cork escaping a bottle (the meeting lasted until 3 am-not a misprint).
I was there to talk about Art and how it changes lives and luckily, I jumped the gun and spoke during the first section of public comment because if I had to wait until the Art discussion section I would have had so much pent-up frustration I might have exploded. So, what is the message? Simple, smart people sometimes take their eyes off the prize getting caught up in things which don’t move anyone forward. Are there important things the school board discusses and decides? Absolutely. Could they do it more efficiently? Absolutely.
Which brings me back to the elections and 2024. We have to stop getting caught up in the shiny objects of elections and personalities and vote based on what is important, starting with not killing five-year-olds. I’m not going to tell you what else is important, you have to figure that out on your own, but you do have to think and develop opinions and hopefully discuss those opinions and maybe change some opinions because that’s OK too. To say that you changed your mind because of a new idea or new information or new experience (would abortion be legal if men carried the babies?) is called learning. We should all try it as often as possible.
And here’s the kicker, you don’t have to be smart to not be dumb. Right? I mean, I know many smart people, enough to know that I am not really one of them and that’s OK too. I’m smart enough to motivate and engage students, smart enough to inspire and coach a couple of small-town high school teams and smart enough to live a pretty good life but could I do better? Sure, we all could, and that’s what motivates me forward each and every day.
Get rid of the dumb in 2024.