I have been using ‘Learning to love dumb people’ as a business slogan for over six years now. It started when I was working at a trade show trying to get people’s attention and I randomly threw out, “Learn to love the dumb people in your lives,” and most people laughed and were then open to what I was promoting. Since then I have had it displayed on my car, and in the last month I have had three people tell me they are offended by this phrase, which is unusual since most people see my car and laugh with some even taking a picture of it. Another popular response is to ask me what it means; this too is a healthy response. Hearing that people are offended by it is rather baffling when I’m promoting love. What’s offensive about love? One person I’ve talk to didn’t like that I use the word “dumb”, but dumb is the least offensive insult that isn’t childish like silly billy or poopheads. Even more, this business slogan has become my personal mantra as it helps me be a better person because what it means is an important reminder.
What is Means: I believe people are generally good, but we all have very dumb moments. Because we can all have dumb moments, we need to be ready to be patient and kind to ourselves and those around us instead of being quick to judge and condemn, you know, like people who are offended by this saying.
The first time this past month I was told I offended someone, I had just parked on the street ready to go into my work office when this car pulled up with the window down. The driver, a middle aged woman, called out, “Your sign…” and paused just enough to make me think she was going to say something positive or enlightening because I like to see the best in people. She then said “…is offensive,” and drove off with smoke coming out of her window, so she was either smoking or part satan. Um, what was that? How was that beneficial? Her saying it’s offensive and driving off isn’t engaging me in a discussion to find out what my intention is like most people do; it’s simply to condemn me like she’s somehow queen of the world who gets to dispense her opinion like it matters. I’m not sure if her intention was to ruin my day or just make me practice what I preach, but I looked at my sign and thought “Right, I need to love her… that stupid… no; I will practice what I preach.” Fortunately, I went into my office, quickly journalled my feelings as a way to vent, and then got to work to distract myself, which is how a healthy person deals with a frustrating situation. I really do try to practice what I preach.
The more recent person I offended actually got under my skin more than I should have let it. The good thing is this is a reminder that I have room to grow. This woman I’ve never met messaged me on a public forum to say that this saying is offensive to people with autism, Down syndrome, dementia, and other disabilities. Um, my saying has nothing to do with people with disabilities. Initially I was really scared that I had upset someone because of my overly developed sensitive side. Fortunately, this quickly turned into a healthier emotion, anger. How dare she associate people with disabilities as being dumb? How does she even get “dumb” as meaning people with actual disorders? Yes, dumb years and years ago was used to describe people who are mute, but it hasn’t meant that in my lifetime like gay hasn’t meant happy. Her interpretation actually makes her the one who is insulting. I never saw it that way because I don’t see labels as being a reason to look down on someone. Before my Nana died she had dementia. I didn’t see her as “dumb”; I saw her as someone who struggled with a debilitating illness. My baby can’t really do anything beyond be adorable and cry, but I don’t see her as “dumb”; she’s a baby. I have had the privilege of working with and being friends with many people with various disabilities, but I never saw them as “dumb” or inferior; they’re just different than me like everyone else. I saw them as people who can teach me something, who can help me see life in a better way, who can help me be better as a person. Her inference is as ridiculous to me as someone saying “I don’t like Oreos,” and someone else getting angry screaming: “You don’t think blacks and whites should mix?” No, this has nothing to do with that. If someone doesn’t like Oreos, the only thing that can upset you is they don’t like a delicious cookie, but it shouldn’t offend you.
I can’t remember the last time I was “offended”. I’ve heard things I didn’t like, but why would I be offended? Why would I give anyone power like that over me? These people attacking me are likely very hurt people who can’t help but hurt others as they look for ways to deal with their own damage. It’s really quite sad, because how can I, a nobody to them, be offensive? Brush me off and move along. They’re making life harder on themselves, which in turn makes life harder on others.
And once again, I’m back to my original goal: Learning to love dumb people. When people upset you, it’s good to find a healthy way to vent out the feeling and then consider what’s good about it as a way to heal and move on. So, to role model a healthy response, I’ve finished venting my frustrations and now need to consider what’s good about this:
- I’m reminded that I need to be stronger and not be so afraid of conflict.
- I’m reminded that loving your enemies as I’m called to do is hard, but it’s a challenge that helps prevent bitterness and further conflict.
- I can be grateful I’ve learned not to be as judgemental or quick to throw out contemptuous comments at others like these two people did.
- I can be grateful for all of the other people who get me.
- I can be grateful this has happened after six years of having this slogan. If it happened right away I would’ve thrown away my car sign that has been a big help to me being nicer.
- I’m thankful for an opportunity to feel anger as it’s energizing.
- I’m thankful I’m a nobody. I don’t know how celebrities deal with the constant attacks, especially for things that are exaggerated and changed to make them look worse by the media.
This week may you remember that we need to love dumb people because we will all have dumb moments and it’s learning how to handle them with a loving heart that make life better.
Rev Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people