Roger Marolt: The emperor has no books!
I made a big mistake after I graduated. I quit reading. I guess I had read so much in school, almost none for pleasure, that I thought I needed a break. Maybe I thought I was finished with my education. Before I knew it, three or four years passed and I hadn’t picked up a book. For lack of cerebral exercise, I grew intellectually chubby and my thought process was clogging with the cholesterol of ignorance.
I am not the only one who has ever fallen into this malaise of non-literacy. There is a leader of a great country who we would do well to hold out as an excellent example to our children, not because he is an excellent man, but because he is squandering the opportunity to be one.
I believe our president when he says he has an exceptionally high IQ. After all the whoppers he has told, I don’t know why I believe this, but I do. Perhaps it is because I don’t find the claim of a high IQ very meaningful. Actions not only speak louder than words, they add up to far more than the figures representing an intelligence quotient, even really high ones, too.
Just as blindly, I believe our president does not read. It’s not only the many rumors that lead me to this conclusion. It is the preponderance of evidence. It seems to fit.
If you don’t read, it makes it hard to study. If you’re not studying, learning is difficult. Without learning, there is no possibility of incorporating history and the experiences of intellect and discovery before us into your worldview. And, if you knit your accumulation of thought together with only a thread’s width of a worldview, how is it possible to contribute meaningfully in the present and make the world a better place?
A high IQ is only an indicator of the possibility of exceptional intellectual capabilities. It says nothing about achievement. By itself, it is about as satisfying as runny pie filling without golden, flaky crust.
A person with a high IQ who does not read is the flabby chain smoker, born with physical talent, on a couch molded to his butt, in front of the tube all evening, who never bothered to run a mile or do so much as a single push-up to develop any of the strength necessary to become an athlete.
Our president has a high IQ, he attended good schools, and he is rich, yet he is not wise, thoughtful or well-spoken. It ruins the effect. Some of his own staffers have reportedly referred to him as a moron and an idiot. Almost nobody says he is smart.
This is not politics as usual. Many people think our current president is better at the job than his predecessor. Some of them demonstrate disdain and even raw hatred for our former commander in chief. Even still, while detractors make many criticisms of him, I bet you never heard him called an idiot or a moron.
The difference in perception, and probably reality, about the relative intellectual chasm between the current and former presidents is more than black and white. It goes beyond conflicting political ideologies. I believe it stems from a simple thing that is completely within each’s control and which the two have approached totally differently. It is about reading and not.
You can shape your body of knowledge in many ways, but doing it primarily through television news, YouTube and Facebook is not the best. These make parrots out of us, not thinkers. It is easy to get fooled by blurbs. We get mentally lazy for the lack of required attention.
Read instead. Pick up a book or an article too long to easily paraphrase. Go into depth on things that interest you. Go deeper into topics that have a potential impact on mankind. Through difficult passages, pause often and contemplate. Try to understand the author’s viewpoint. As you read, hearing a writer’s words in your own voice is a remarkable perspective. Fill in the blanks with your ideas. If something doesn’t sound right, find another source on the same topic and critically compare.
So, to graduates of schools far and wide: Your education is not accomplished. You are not burnt out on learning, since it is possibly the most reinvigorating endeavor we have. I hope you immediately engage in a satisfying and happy life and pass away peacefully many years from now with an open book on your chest and a dozen more on your nightstand that you couldn’t wait to get to. You will go with less fear for greater understanding. Your acquired bearing will have proved you valued wisdom and always answered its call. No one will have thought you a moron.
Roger Marolt would rather read than eat ice cream. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to choose. Email at email@example.com.
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