Thursday, September 04, 2003

Posted on LIveJournal for discussion at
Don’t Be an Idiot!

By Jim Hightower

The Greek word 'idiotes' referred to people who were so self-involved they focused on their own life and were ignorant and uncaring about the common good.

The greatest offense against our society these days is not any one law or a particular assault on our freedoms. Rather, it is the persistent, insidious effort by those who shape our culture to reduce the American citizenry to idiots. From corporate advertisers to political sermonizers, from boards of education to the entertainment programmers, their goal is idiocy.

By 'idiots,' I’m referring to more than the constant charge that we’re all a bunch of dummies. That’s just manufactured media fluff. Far from being a nation of numbskulls, people (and especially young folks) are smarter than ever. But to what end?

The original Greek word 'idiotes' referred to people who might have had a high IQ, but were so self-involved that they focused exclusively on their own life and were both ignorant of and uncaring about public concerns and the common good.

Such people were the exact opposite of the Athenian democratic ideal of an active citizenry fully involved in the civic process, with everyone accepting their responsibilities to each other and all of humankind. This is the ideal that Jefferson and Madison built into our nation’s founding documents, the ideal that Lincoln embraced when he spoke of striving for a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” the ideal that Justice Louis Brandeis was expressing when he wrote that “The most important office” in our land is “that of a private citizen.”

Be an involved citizen? Forget about it, Jake. Don’t waste your time. Get a job, keep your head down, play the lottery, don’t be different, take a pill, watch “reality TV,” buy things, play it safe, live vicariously, don’t make waves, pre-pay your funeral. Oh, and on those big questions—such as economic fairness, going to war, “rebalancing” that liberty/security equation, and the shrinking of democracy itself—don’t hurt your little gray cells by focusing on them, for there’s not a lot you can do about them, we know more than you do, and don’t worry … we’ll take care of you. Go about your business—be a good idiot.

[ ... ]

Found on alt.gathering.rainbow

There, I replied as follows:
"Awesome synchronicity, skye ... see and ... what I created yesterday, the end result of years in the field (who else stays back to organize /something /locally// on the week of July 4th? is that perverse and self-destructive?), and the product of abandonment: I am /surrounded/ by idiots ... blank-eyed and busy, pleasant and superficial, self-protective and narcissistic.

There are two basic drives, and one of the is all about doing the good. (Yes, the second is self-interest ... it's the other one that makes this "enlightenened".)
"The pursuit of happiness" ... and what's happier that enjoying the good that we have brought about with our brothers and sisters by sharing it in their company? We're a gregarious and social people; "I am because we are!"

I am alone because we are lonely idiots."


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