Musings of a Pioneer: …Idiots. Call Them by Any Name!

Ron Burns said, “You cannot make anything idiot proof because idiots are so ingenious.”

My wife and I are so much used to a walk together in the evening, wherever we have lived. These difficult times have not deterred us in continuing with our walks. We also started walking together in the morning since the days of lockdowns as my wife started working from home and had more time.

Conscious of the dangers in the air or surface – nobody really knows with theories changing in the newspapers at a much faster rate than the positivity rate – we decided to be fully armed. We got enough masks, converted a ball pen without the refill but filled with sanitiser to operate the lift; and we were armed to continue with our walks inside our gated condominium complex.

This is when we encountered self-professed saviours of mother earth. They would hang in their balconies, probably all the time, to catch the unsuspecting at any time of the day or night, and then call the PCR complaining against the stray walkers who were walking with full protection. The police would necessarily have to come since a complaint had been made and then go back irritated at the complainant.

My wife, who even in normal times, is an activist of sorts, fighting her battles for a green earth, turned more militant. She started requesting those not wearing a mask to cover their mouth and nose. Most of them were good natured, resisted on the first day with some excuse or the other, but were masked from the next walking session – and continue to remain masked.

It was during one such walk that she encountered a much younger lady walking with no mask – not even one dangling around her ears. The sensibilities of my wife aroused, she stopped the lady, and requested her to comply with the regulations. My wife was angrily brushed aside and in the next round was rudely advised that she is a doctor, spends long hours in the hospital with a mask on, and she needs her lungs to breathe fresh air, uninterrupted by any mask; and then walked away. To put it mildly, my wife was stumped; and so was I. God save us from such doctors.

I am not a medical professional, thus, I inquired from those who are. They were unequivocal in their opinion – the lady in question is an idiot. And she continues to be one even now. In later days, I have come to know that she is not alone, and such people are called Covidiots.

But being an idiot is not limited only during pandemic times. We have all been guilty of this at some time. I went to a university – a few days before lockdown – to speak about my book. I made a point that communication amongst people should never stop, even if it meant communicating on the social media – be it Facebook, or Instagram or Tinder. The audience erupted and I preened with pride at my own oratory skills. Till… I searched the net on the train back and found that Tinder was a dating platform. I may choose to call this a faux pass, but simple fact is that it was stupid of me to speak of something of which I had no knowledge.

But then this foot in the mouth syndrome is nothing new – particularly amongst the politicians – across the entire spectrum. An idiotic statement made in a public rally leaves them unfazed till the next rally – to make another such statement. The unfortunate part is that these statements are crass, racist, or sexist – and are not funny.

“Virgin, as per the dictionary, means an unmarried and pure girl. So, all these words are not objectionable,” and a medical college did nothing wrong when asking female candidates to declare their virginity in a form for admission, stated a minister in one of the states.

Nobody can forget the now infamous quip by a senior leader about crime against women, “Boys will be boys, they commit mistakes.”

But this one takes the cake. A senior leader said that electricity must be provided in all villages so that they spend more time in watching television rather than procreating. Or when a leader said that crimes against women are happening in urban India and not in rural India since we are losing our culture in the urban cities.

Having convinced myself that I am surrounded by idiots, which presupposes that I am not an idiot myself, at least in my eyes, I have made peace with myself and the world around me.

I agree with Sarah Cooke, “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

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