I’ve grown incredibly tired of idiocy. Idiots – like the poor – will always be with us, but it’s one thing to lack the power to reason and another thing to revel in it. I’ve been reading a book from the church library on Greco-Roman myth, dated to 1893 – aimed, as far as I can tell, at older children – and it is written at an intellectual level that surpasses anything I’ve read in the past year, at the least. I’m reminded of some clickbait article that made the rounds a few years ago about whether you’d get into college in 1900, and all the questions were so far beyond our current cultural training – especially in their focus on classical languages, great books, and philosophy – that essentially no one in America circa current year could get admitted. (Which is, ultimately, as it should be, though even our elites have let their standards slip.)
When I was an early teenager my family moved to Iowa, and we were living for the first few months in a camper at a campground that abetted a farm. The stink was overwhelming: everything smelled like manure and animals – but only for a week. You rapidly adjust to the smell around you. And I remember thinking back then: do I smell like manure and animals? (Of course I didn’t – it was just the specific smell of the farm in that season – but I was a young teenager and didn’t know any better.) Analogously, I now wonder: have I become an idiot? Has being around emojis, clickbait, social media, and video games dulled my intellect and cultural sense so grossly and completely that I barely even recognize the deformation of my own character and the squandering of my potential?
Unfortunately, I know, in my heart, soul, and mind that it most certainly has, and if I, an intelligent man, have been turned into an empty-headed fool, then what about average or dimwitted individuals? No wonder I look out daily onto further signs of social collapse: self-centered behavior and their associated philosophies; morbid obesity and other disregard for the body; violent and short-tempered behavior; hypersexualization in manners and dress – especially among the young; tattoos and other body modifications; general ignorance, inability to reason, distractedness, and emotional coarsening – likely driven by technological addiction; the rise of sexual/gender perversion; hatred of self, culture, and nation; and the total collapse of all meaningful cultural output (no, Marvel movies don’t count).
There’s nothing I can do about others – my sphere is limited to myself and my family, and maybe – at my most persuasive – my friends, but I can do something about myself. I uninstalled all my video games, disconnected from the internet except for necessary tasks and some daily news, replaced all the popular radio stations in my car with classical music and jazz, and began going to daily Mass. It’s not much, but it’s a start. Next up is reading a book a week and finally getting around to learning Latin.
I can’t let myself die an idiot.