Inquiry: Americans take pride in being stupid

Americans take pride in being stupid. (There is a tendency in the US to take pride in being stupid.)

  1. True?
    Yes. Sometimes.
  2. Sure?
    • No. It is my interpretation, based on limited information.
    • What is my evidence?
      • I’ll just take one here: Many are anti-science, and defend that view.
      • How is that evidence for the initial statement? Hm… I see holding anti-science views as stupid, but that is just an interpretation. (It probably makes sense from where they are coming from, including the information available to them.)
      • I also see them as taking pride in it, which is also an interpretation. There are many other possibilities. For instance, they are just defending a belief, which we all do. And they may act out of fear, which we also all do. (Including when caught up in and defending a belief.)
      • So seeing some people defending anti-science views are not really a proof. My view is only an interpretation, twice.
  3. What happens when I believe that thought?
    • I feel a hardening. Tightening of muscles in the chest and throat area. A holding in the chest and shallow breath. A sense of separation.
    • I look for and collect examples: People voting for Bush, especially the second time. People who hold anti-science views. People who are fundamentalist Christians. Or fundamentalist anything. (Including pro-science.) People who are anti-gay. Anti-universal health care. Not informed about the world.
    • I take these examples and contrast them with what I know from my own country (Norway). I take the worst of what I find here in the US (the list above) and compare it with the best of what I find in Norway. (Progressive, informed, balanced views coming from a deeply human context.)
    • I feel I am in the wrong place. I make myself a victim, since I live here, among these barbarians, and miss out of the deep humanity I experience in my own country.
    • I exaggerate. I first see many examples of what I interpret as stupidity, and then tell myself that these people even take pride in being stupid. I interpret holding onto and defending views, which we all do, as taking pride in it. Overlooking other possibilities. (Such as just being convinced our beliefs are right, acting from fear, and so on.)
    • There is a sense of opposition. I expect reactivity from others if I express this view. I engage in imagined arguments with others. I feel a sense of precariousness around it, because I know others will have good arguments the other direction. I notice that I am clinging to a partial view, not admitting it is partial, which is precarious.
    • Reactiveness comes up. I get caught up in emotions around Americans taking pride in being stupid. First, when I tell myself stories about how they take pride in being stupid. And then, when I expect opposition to that view.
    • There is discomfort all around. From holding onto a partial view which I know is partial. From tightening of the body. From a sense of separation. From anticipating arguments and opposition.
    • When did I first have that thought? In general, probably early on b/c it is a common view in my culture. Specifically, after I moved here.
  4. Who am I without it? What happens?
    • Sense of spaciousness. Deep breath. Can breathe more freely. More sense of aliveness. Engagement. Interest. Friendly.
    • Sense of connection. Being in the same boat. Of us, even if (some of) our preferences are different.
  5. Turnarounds.
    • Americans do not take pride in being stupid.
      • That is true. Many don’t. Even when I filter the world through my initial statement, I see that many don’t.
      • Also, I don’t know if that is what is happening. Do they take pride in being stupid? I don’t know.
    • Americans take pride in being smart.
      • Yes, that is true. I know many who seem to take pride in being smart. In being well-informed and balanced in their views. (Although I still seem to encounter that far more often in Norway…!)
      • They take pride in being smart in certain ways, for instance through technology. Also, the leading edge in many areas are found right here, which is why I came here in the first place, and still am here.
      • Even those I see as stupid take pride in being smart, in terms of developing ways to defend their views. As we all do.
    • I take pride in being stupid.
      • Yes, when I believe that initial thought (Americans take pride in being stupid) I take pride in being stupid. I hold onto a view I know is partial and just an interpretation, and try to make it look true, real, substantial. I find evidence for it. I (mentally) seek out others who agree. I stubbornly defend it, even if I know it is a precarious position to take. In all of these ways, I take pride in being stupid.
      • Whenever I hold onto a story as true, I take pride in being stupid. I hold onto a story as true, even as I know it is partial and only an interpretation. I defend it, even as I know I cannot really defend it. So I am stupid, and take pride in it.
    • I take pride in being smart.
      • Also true, especially when I do these inquiries. I take pride in finding what is already more true for me. I take pride in being smart around the mechanisms of samsara, at least to some extent.
      • I enjoy being somewhat informed about what is happening in the world.
      • I am willing to admit I don’t know. However much I may be familiar with different views and maps, and however much these may be interpreted as smart and accurate, I don’t really know. They don’t even touch that I really don’t know.

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