The right amount of dumb

For Your Consideration

Peter CavanaughNovember 29, 2012 

That I've found more truth in bars than churches through the years is more a subjective recollection than a substantive recommendation, but it's a reflection that found new validation recently when Casey Schuetz came up with a wonderful phrase seemingly out of nowhere.

Schuetz is president/owner of MAMA TRYD Productions and has been busy staging live band presentations at The Oak Room in Oakhurst for the last year or so. We were recently enjoying a few adult beverages together at the establishment when Casey started reminiscing about an uncle of his who had a way with words. In offering qualified evaluation of the world in general and certain people in particular, Casey's uncle would often say that sometimes it all comes down to "just the right amount of dumb."

Those words struck me like a diamond bullet. I almost spilled my Irish Car Bomb. Almost. For the uninitiated, an Irish Car Bomb is made with Guinness Stout, Bailey's Irish Cream and Jameson's Irish Whiskey. It was invented in 1979 at Wilson's Saloon in Norwich, Connecticut. Once poured, it must be consumed quickly or it curdles like a lost love, perhaps abandoned for chronically exhibiting "the right amount of dumb."

Indeed, until that close to a wasted whiskey moment, it had never dawned on me that there actually might be a critical mass of ignorance that, once achieved, renders future reversal or redemption functionally impossible. In this context, please note that the word "ignorant" doesn't mean stupidity, but, according to Noah Webster, indicates "a deliberate disregard of reality" and "dumb" should be similarly considered by its first dictionary definition as "lacking the power of speech; mute."

In a collective sense, "the right amount of dumb" comes about when, for reasons of conviviality or convenience, we tolerate and at times enthusiastically embrace core nonsense even at the risk of cataclysmic peril.

Setting aside all 70,000 square feet of "Creation Museum" in Petersburg, Kentucky ($29.95 for Adults 13-59) -- The science is irrefutable.

We balance in precise planetary alignment. Above is the Sun, while beyond orbit frigid sister planets. Below churns the molten core of an Earth upon which we rest in cool comfort -- Between fire and ice.

We're moving 100 miles per second (one quick breath) in our annual journey around the sun, and that doesn't factor an expansion of the universe that may even exceed the speed of light.

"Hang On, Sloopy" -- The McCoys (1965).

"Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return." Genesis 3:19.

In the physical realm, we are pure stardust.

We cooled four billion years ago when earth was formed.

We'll be free again in another four billion years when the sun runs out of hydrogen and becomes a giant red star.

We humans haven't been in charge very long. It took hundreds of generations thousands of years to guess our planet has more sides than one. You'd think the moon might have provided the clever with a clue.

In one of his more wildly optimistic moments, noted astronomer/scientist/pot smoker Carl Sagan once calculated chances of the human race avoiding self-extermination through a full nuclear exchange at less than 1%.

It's become so fashionable to ignore the obvious. And yet I somehow intuitively sense that in the end we'll all be fabulously fine in spite of ourselves.

If it's not too late to preach and practice the right amount of smart.

This holiday season seems a perfect place to start.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." -- Luke 2:14.

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