‘To live is to be able to breathe. To live intelligently is to be able to hold your breath when you have to.’ ~ EON
Do you think you’re intelligent?
Many people do, and they have one thousand arguments to back up their claims, such as a good job and salary. Or a strong degree and family pedigree, or great experience in a number of fields, which makes them able to solve problems daily, at work, at home, anywhere they have to. They’re qualified to deal with a number of crises.
They’re able to read tons of text and make sense out of complex rules, streamlining the execution and fine-tuning their application.
They love to juggle numbers and equations, balancing sheets that scream and bleed, saving organizations from inevitable collapse.
They love to read the Monocle, or Jane Austen, and enjoy their independent films, and subscribe to TEDTalks for their weekly brain-matter shots, and exercise at least four times a week.
They also love to process other people’s grievances and are eager to tackle life at its most basic where the details are thick and rich. They watch the news, peel their eyes, have their ears to the grapevine and mingle with all sorts of folk, setting up networks that get things done.
These people, to each their own, are talented and sharp, able-minded and prodigious.
But are they intelligent?
It depends on how one defines intelligence. If intelligence is the ability to create, accentuate or otherwise contribute to a world that escapes the atavisms that constrain it, then no, many of these people are not intelligent. Their actions don’t necessarily help the system progress toward new and improved form. They don’t readily contribute to a setup unencumbered by the prejudices of the past. On the contrary, they often perpetuate these prejudices by turning a blind eye to them, by banking on them, using them to their advantage, throwing the system back inside the labyrinth it tries to escape. They take one step forward and two steps back, one step forward and two steps back, two to the side, one forward, a hop on the spot and two steps back, nudging everything into spoiled, degraded territory.
Take a look around you. How many of the people you know are conducive to a change that truly means something? How many of the intelligent individuals you associate with contribute to a world free from the limitations of the past, laying out a platform for something substantially new, fresh, and, above all, functional?
Look around you, long and hard, and you’ll see a bunch of people looking around too, trying to make up their minds about what they see. Right there and then, in the midst of this triangulation, you’ll get your answer about a lot of things, including your place in the world you occupy. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll step out of line and do something completely unexpected, adding your two cents to a life less ordinary, to a setup more informed and functional than the one you were bequeathed.
You may do so by starting with your immediate surroundings, your sphere of influence, where you exercise the most control. It may just be enough to make a difference whatever your chosen course of action, if your circle is wide enough to affect the world at large.
If it isn’t, sorry, your actions won’t matter in any immediate way. Like a drop in the ocean, your impact will be lost in the vast swathe of water covering the land.
Even so, it’s a start. By trying to make a difference, futile as your actions may be, you will have taken a significant step toward something novel, which is more than one can say of most people.
In that sense, you will have done the intelligent thing. Time will take heed of your actions and reward what they stood for in the roundabout and belated manner it loves to employ. What you represented will be carried on a wave swelling over the lands of those who propagated at will with no real substance to sustain their growth, whose ground-shaking initiatives gave birth to the tide that drowned them out.
Intrigued? Watch this space for more.
From the collection of writings EON: THE ANGRY COMING OF AGE