de Cristina Nemerovschi (Morgothya)
translated from Romanian by Silvia Bratu
click pentru versiunea română
The second baccalaureate session has passed with as many tears and as much heart-breaking whining as the first session which took place at the beginning of this summer. Indignant students, terribly annoyed parents furiously cursing the poor teachers for having been mean to their children, on the one hand, resigned teachers, on the other hand, while people keep discussing the alleged causes of the disaster, unable to reach a satisfactory conclusion.
As we approach the year 2012 – deemed a fatal year by those who are the most easily impressed by apocalyptic theories – the media (radio and television stations especially, though we should not be prejudiced) have turned 95% of the Romanian population into agitated dogs drooling all over their collars while waiting, with stiff tails and crooked grins, for the “Direct Access” TV show running every afternoon to start, in order to find out the only news that truly matter.
In less than three months, we, the ones still in their right minds, shall be watching – with a feeling that we have been projected into a large audience science fiction series – housewives pulling each other’s hair, recently done by a fancy hairdresser, while fighting at the supermarket over the last box of glittering Christmas-tree decorations, as well as grown-ups punching each other in a clash over the Christmas-tree with the largest lower branches or over the biggest pork chop, while their 4 or 5-year-old offspring spend their nights browsing the Internet looking for the trendiest iPhone.
Stupidity is undoubtedly the cause for anything not functioning properly. If they invented a program by which all people could be brought to a fairly acceptable intelligence level, we would definitely no longer have traffic jams, retarded politicians, stray dogs, literary reviews written by the authors themselves instead of certain critics, nauseating TV shows, Inna, CanCan or ClickTV. However, pure, overly extended and incredibly colourful stupidity could not act by itself. Stupidity has a reliable ally, which, unfortunately, seems to have a brighter and brighter future ahead. I am talking about politeness, coupled with a sense of hiding from reality by closing one’s eyes when confronted with an unpleasant image.
Politeness has a simple psychological explanation. Discontented or disgusted by what the society nowadays has to offer, more and more people believe that they have found its weakness. “I won’t offend anyone, I’ll keep a low profile, I’ll be respectful and so the world will automatically become a better place, as the others follow my example,” the good citizen tells himself, convinced that common sense is the magic ingredient that will save the world. He wouldn’t even dream of such an attitude actually having the opposite effect. Those who benefit from the consequences of an attitude like that are precisely those who immediately need both a radical change of mentality in order not to contaminate those around them anymore and, most definitely, a brain transplant and a brain operational manual. Sheltered by their peers’ politeness, stupid people will rapidly, harmoniously and freely grow, just like toadstool. Because of the tolerance, the so-called correctness and the respect they are shown, which they do not deserve (yet how could someone persuade a scrupulous person who believes that everybody deserves respect merely for having been brought into this world and having studied – however poorly and superficially – the alphabet?), stupid people have not only increased their numbers, but have also become more and more vocal. Intelligent people are no longer able to make themselves heard, due to the mooing of the herd of hopelessly stupid individuals. Moreover, because of not matching the aberrant pattern of those in the herd, an intelligent person runs a high risk of being accused of madness, regarded as a fatal threat to society, and deported to a deserted island.
“Things will never get better before they get worse,” says one of the characters in a famous novel by Palahniuk. Politeness provides an appropriate environment for stupid people to grow and come to believe that their words matter, that they – as people – matter and will be taken into consideration. Such belief will turn a stupid person from just another stupid individual into a demanding and impertinent one, who wants to be heard and worshiped. Good citizens’ politeness will make a stupid individual run for Parliament, or beg to be invited to a TV show, firmly believing that the stupid things on his mind would be of interest to others as well. Intelligent people have nothing to gain from the others’ politeness; in most cases, they do not need futile praise – they are aware of their own qualities and flaws. Conversely, a stupid person is usually a weak, easily influenced, insecure individual. The undeserved respect a stupid individual is shown, due to the fact that he is – just like anybody else – a mammal, means a great deal to his ego. While he has no ideas and convictions of his own, a stupid individual will live off others in order to come across – to the extent possible – as having a mind of his own, always needing approval. Quite the opposite, if we put a spotless mirror in front of him, we could make him temporarily disappear (or, who knows, maybe even disappear for good!) from the public domain he so eagerly contaminates. Let us not fool ourselves any more thinking that each of our peers has the same rights as we have just because our bodies share somewhat identical basic functions. Gaining other people’s respect should not occur merely as a result of us being born; it should depend on our personality and the way we think and act, and especially on the things we leave behind – be they good or bad.
What I want more and more is a world without false politeness. Without individuals who indulge in nice words and in the useless need of being “kind.” A world in which we could take the liberty of telling a dance music singer that she badly needs to go over the basic elements of grammar or bringing the same basic grammar rules to the attention of a politician who is on a seaside vacation with his family. Admonish a journalist who daily intoxicates us with retarded articles. Spank a child boasting about never having read a book in his life. Tell an individual striving to get his opinion heard (naturally, a deadly cliché) that his view really does not matter and that we could not give a damn about him. Tell the parents who are indignant about the baccalaureate results obtained by their children that this is the truth, however unpleasant it may be: the respective teenager is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, an imbecile who has been brainwashed by TV commercials, by the trendy websites he browses daily, by computer games and low quality oriental-like songs as well as by the pressure of building a future that involves having money, a big house with a pool, a car, and a wife as fertile as possible to provide quality offspring. And also tell them that the hilariously stupid lines written by students in their baccalaureate papers are real – there is no conspiracy. And that not even Americans can be blamed for it. Lifting the veil that prevents one from seeing the truth can be painful, but in the long run it seems to be one of the few real solutions.
In conclusion, think twice before being polite. Remember: telling a stupid individual that he is stupid does not mean insulting him, but stating a fact.