How did the smartest people ever to exist screw up our country and our society so badly?
We value intelligence and knowledge. With good reason.
Intelligent, thoughtful illumination has an uplifting effect on individuals and a civilization. We’ve seen that many times throughout history. The founding of our American Republic is one such stellar example.
Back in the 1980s, I recall someone lamenting how the most qualified and best candidate to never become president was Adlai Stephenson. Certainly, the Democratic Party has been trying since Stephenson to claim the mantle of “intelligent.” Democrats are always the smart ones – smarter, better policies, and as a result morally superior.
Now, it’s hard not to notice that the pinnacle of the left being smarter than everyone came to us with one Barack Obama, with his incredibly über-intelligent, superior group of advisers and administration.
Nobody was ever smarter. Ever.
Except they really weren’t. For smart people, they actually did some of the dumbest things ever in public life. The tragedy of so many believing they were the smartest people ever may haunt us for years.
There is a huge disconnect between the true concept of wisdom and the smartest people ever.
Culturally, valuing knowledge and intellect has three main sources: the Greek philosophers, the Bible, and the Church. There were others, but these three more than any other sources provided the basis for the respect for knowledge and wisdom in our culture. The concept of highly valuing the realm of the mind became imbedded in the West because of them. Jordan Peterson loves to praise how clean our lives are, how things work so well, and how wonderful we have it. He lets us know in so many ways that all this bounty came from our belief system, one where we cherish achievement of thought.
Wisdom is the subject of Solomon in the Book of Proverbs. Some central quotes:
“Seek wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Find wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”
“Does not wisdom call out?”
“Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.”
These, and so many other lines from Proverbs, form the genesis of why we prize intellect, or wisdom. If the search for and the study of wisdom can bring us so much, then indeed it was right for our culture to value it.
What we call the Protestant work ethic came straight from Solomon. Perhaps it should rightfully be called the Jewish work ethic. The important thing to note is that having that value imbedded in our civilization makes things better, makes things nicer, and does great things for us and our culture.
Our culture. It’s why we are prosperous, live longer, live better, and have so much in depth in so many areas of life. C.S. Lewis called the Bible our “instruction manual.” If you follow the manual, the human machine works at its best, tuned finely for maximal effect and output. The wisdom of Solomon was a huge part of the manual.
Enter the deconstructive left.
Leftists authored this divorce from wisdom. They divorced themselves from the “instruction manual” and its source. They began the effort to take away the moral underpinnings from our culture. The great Greek philosophers were no longer to be held in high esteem. Likewise, the great Church figures, and the Founding Fathers, they were simply dead white males who should be made fun of.
The deconstruction has been slow but effective.
The eight years of Barack Obama were the West at its low point. My take: I never thought our culture could turn so wrong so fast. Things happened in our government and culture during those eight years we never deemed possible even ten years ago. Destructive trends, destructive ideas, destructive social movements. All at their peak through the Obama years:
*The destruction of our health care system through the oh, so smart Obamacare.
*The worst economy since WWII, in any measure – jobs, GDP, unemployment, spending, etc.
*The worst race relations since the 1960s. Race-baiting, straight from the top.
*The worst foreign policy ever. Iran. Cuba. ISIS. Help our enemies. Betray our friends. Bolster Islamists; destroy American confidence and its military.
*The most corrupt administration ever. By far. We’re just now seeing how bad.
*A turn in leftist immigration policy – its clear intent to replace the current electorate with a malleable, ignorant new electorate willing to believe the leftist siren songs so the left can have unchallenged power.
*The worst of pay to play. Leftists at the trough of government sucked deep. The Clinton Foundation sucking the deepest. Follow the money if you dare.
*The moral preening of Hollywood and the media. All the while, they lived and played in the cesspool of Weinstein and Matt Lauer. #MeToo was caused by them and still is.
The list is longer and should be a book by itself. The list of failures could get to over a hundred easily. And yes, it was that bad. Like frogs in the simmering pot, we were being cooked. “Transformed.” Also known as destroyed.
So how does all this horrible stuff happen under a group of people who were considered by our elites, our media, and themselves the smartest people ever? How did our media get away with calling so many major failings wonderful? Cow patties strewn around the pasture on stale bread were described as culinary treasures. It was, and is, sickening.
How is it possible to morph from JFK to Barack Obama in one generation? From revering wisdom to wearing a dunce cap in fifty years? That is surely what so many did.
The Book of Proverbs gives an answer. It gave us the overwhelmingly beautiful description of wisdom, but it also gave us this clear warning: “be not wise in your own eyes.”
On the surface, that doesn’t seem like much. But it’s really the key to understanding what has happened to the left.
They became arrogant. Filled with hubris. A group of narcissists who believe their own P.R. They really were the smartest people ever. Obama himself, and those surrounding him, really believed it. It’s a Greek tragedy written for today – a group of narcissists in charge of the levers of power, doing terrible things in the name of good.
Most of them thought there was no reason to heed the “instruction manual.”
They replaced centuries of wisdom with their own image and called it good.
They replaced generations of wonderful ideas with degenerate, unworkable, truly horrific notions that had never worked anywhere else they were tried. These ideas had failed miserably so many times. Except they were now so smart and morally superior that they would surely make them work. The pinnacle of smart.
And it showed for eight years. And it was covered up for eight years. And it was reported as wonderful for eight years. Stupidity linked with hubris was mistaken for wisdom by so many of our elites. And that’s all it was. True wisdom and its rewards are described beautifully by Solomon. It needs be sought, to avoid these horrors.
Wisdom should be exalted – just not the fake kind as espoused by the left.