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I recently read that there is scientific proof that we are becoming progressively dumber with each passing generation. Brain scientists estimate that we have lost an average of 14 total IQ points since the Victorian Era and that the human brain is becoming smaller instead of larger. This revelation didn't particularly surprise me since I have long suspected as much and I theorize that the Victorian Era brain was probably 14 IQ points or more lower than the brain during the Age of Enlightenment.
This is apparently a world-wide phenomenon and not at all specific to any culture, race, ethnic group, gender, or socio-economic level. Evidently, getting dumber is an equal-opportunity evolutionary process. Absolutely everyone, without exception, is getting dumber. Yippee.
We like to think that we are getting smarter because we can go to the moon and invent cool stuff like smart phones, computers, video games, and various other gadgetry. The irony is that all this cool stuff we like to play with is part of what is making us dumber. We love shortcuts. No one needs to spell, use grammar, or articulate. How much articulating do you need to do in 140 characters, anyway? Our leaders, who are traditionally supposed to be our best articulators, can barely form a coherent sentence and when trying to communicate usually just end up saying something unbearably stupid. That's not a problem, however, since evidently we are functionally unable to understand much of anything involving critical thinking. We don't want our leaders to be intelligent, we want them to be regular old folks who drink beer and listen to bad music. Of course, you don't have to be smart to be clever, which makes it ridiculously easy for anyone with an agenda to pull the wool over the eyes of people with the attention span of bacteria.
According to these studies, we are not only getting dumber, we are also getting weaker. Our immune systems become more and more compromised every year. Because of this, we are not only more susceptible to disease, we are prone to far more allergies and auto-immune conditions. I took a poll at work one day and discovered that out of everyone I talked with, there was only one person other than myself who was not on some sort of medication. Everyone was regularly taking something for some condition or other and this crossed all ages and genders. No wonder pharmaceutical companies are so rich.
When I go for a walk a sometimes take a stroll through our local cemetery, which is a lovely and peaceful place. One day I noticed some old headstones belonging to one family that told a tragic story. By looking at the dates I realized that the woman who was buried there had given birth to 6 children. Two of them died in infancy, one at the age of 10, another in young adulthood, and her last in the Civil War. His name was also recorded on the monument that held the names of all the young men from the town who died during the war. She lost all her children and her husband years before she, herself passed away. I wondered how she survived such terrible tragedy. How did she live with such crippling grief and sorrow? How did she continue on after losing one child after another? I went to the local historical society to see if I could find out anything about her. I discovered that she married a merchant sea captain at 18 and lived in a house that still stands. I also discovered that even after all her personal tragedy and terrible loss, she was known as a lovely and loving woman who helped others in need. She was rather well known for organizing a group of women in her church who knit hats and gloves and sweaters for all the local children so that none would suffer in the cold winters without them.
I found myself in awe of this woman and her phenomenal courage. How strong and brave she must have been to not only survive, but care so much for others. I was overwhelmed with respect for her and astounded by her goodness and bravery. I couldn't help wondering if any of us living today could measure up to her strength and courage. In this age of depression, anxiety, and dysfunction often based on the most superficial and trivial of complaints, I couldn't help feeling that many of us would fall far short of her example. If she were living today would she have some post traumatic stress disorder and be taking arm loads of medication? Would she be weeping and wailing and full of pain because she wasn't pretty enough, or skinny enough, or popular enough? All I know is compared to her, we are certainly not enough of something. Something we, as a society, have lost that has made us dumber, weaker, and less than we should be.
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