Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Intellectual Arrogance:

Intellectual Arrogance is the sin of looking down -- way down -- on those less intelligent than yourself. I can think of few sins that so quickly visit punishment on those who practice it. Being intellectually arrogant is akin to locking yourself in a cage. My extended family really believed in Intellectual Arrogance and raised me to be a slavish adherent. I was violently cured when I was eighteen, and I've enjoyed life a lot more ever since. Please let me tell you about it.

I had my first job as a camp counselor, the summer I was eighteen. It was a large, well-run camp. Our unit, one of eight, had sixteen bunks, each with eight to ten campers and two counselors. Each dozen counselors had a counselor-counselor who monitored our work and offered advice. There were nearly a hundred counselors my age at this camp, so even if I was choosy, I was going to have lots of friends. Except that I didn't, because none of them was smart enough for me. I could be civil, but it was hard not to look down on them.

For about a week I enjoyed the feeling that I was the smart one in a sea of dummies. For the next three weeks I was miserable. But having plenty of undisturbed time to observe everyone else, I started to notice that most people have strikingly fine qualities. There are so many incredibly different ways that people can be good at something, or simply very worthwhile, or very enjoyable, and being clever or intellectually quick is just one of the many. I unlocked my cage and started enjoying the people around me.

The rest of the summer was fun.

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