The dumbing down of America has never been more apparent and, as such, is highly concerning. More and more Americans spit, metaphorically speaking, at intellectuals and attempt to denigrate them by calling them “elitists.”
But ignorance is not something to be revered or admired; it is lamentable. Ignorance fuels fear, hatred, and bigotry. Ignorance is now driving our politics and is responsible for America’s descent into populism and isolationism.
I grew up thinking intelligence and intellectualism were totally cool. But I was brought up by parents that considered the arts, intellectualism, and reading to be invaluable. We kids were dragged to many museums throughout Europe and the United States, and yes, we were forced to watch opera on TV by my mother. We also were taken to see live theater and classical concerts, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
But Dad was the one who made education and reading fun. I started reading the classics by age eight (Dumas, Scott, Dickens, etc.) because Dad had told us that he had loved those thrilling stories as a child.
Dad knew more about a wide variety of subjects than I could ever hope to know. It wasn’t until I became involved with computers in the 80s did I finally find a subject in which I surpassed him.
I remember I once gave Dad an ancient computer (it had a: and b: drives) and my old university book about programming in Basic. He actually taught himself how to program in Basic while in his 80s and wrote financial programs for himself.
Then my sister gave him her old computer with Windows 95 on it. Dad enjoyed mastering the GUI interface. I’d visit and teach him about email, Word, Excel, etc. He only had difficulty managing the mouse. It was funny watching him shove the mouse across the pad.
Dad was 85 at the time and dying of COPD, but he never stopped learning. My beloved father retained his curiosity about the world around him until he fell into a coma and died.
We must always strive for more knowledge; intellectualism should be cherished, and ignorance must be overcome.