Wed | Dec 12, 2018

Trevor E. S. Smith | Dumbing Down For A Peaceful Life

Published:Sunday | September 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Some people take pride in their ability to see through others. They read more into what others could be thinking.

My call for us to dumb down for a peaceful life is driven by deep concern about the increasing difficulty that we have in resolving conflict. I presented a message titled 'Sophisticated Intellect' in 2005, and I draw on its continued relevance in helping us to relate to one another more harmoniously.

"Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a fool so that he may become wise." 1 Corinthians 3:18




A guard had to stop a worker from cutting the throat of a co-worker who he knew had stolen his bus fare. He was wrong.

This business of knowing is a major cause of conflict. When we 'know' something we shut down listening. In fact, we feel insulted that the individual could think that we are so stupid as to accept their denial.

The certainty with which we clothe ignorance is frightening.

"Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly." Proverbs 17:12

"Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him." Proverbs 26:12




I make a distinction between what I call sophisticated intellect and innocent intellect. Sophisticated intellect is the human intelligence and knowledge that is often treasured. Innocent intellect is the result of 'dumbing down'. We ignore sophisticated intellect prompts and make choices that appear naÔve and foolish.

My suggestion is that we have to dumb down - be naÔve, be intellectually innocent in human terms in order to enjoy a peaceful life.




I have seen people apply great skill to find something offensive from a situation. That requires Sherlock Holmes' perception. What if they had just moved on instead of digging deeper? Why do we have to assume ill will? Why can't we give others the benefit of the doubt?

Some people are too intelligent, suspicious and sensitive to live in peace. Dumb down! Let it go, for harmony.




Take the issue of forgiveness. Someone offends you. They apologise and ask for forgiveness. It happens again. Your sophisticated intellect indicates that your experience and understanding of humans make it clear that the person is not genuinely sorry. They are taking you for a fool.

You have to dumb down in human terms to be able to genuinely say: "I understand, but try not to do it again" and repeat that multiple times.




You really need to put on a dunce cap, because you not only have to contend with your sophisticated intellect, but with friends who will encourage negative thoughts.

Too many of us live on red alert. We assume that there is always a hidden agenda. That outlook almost seems to seek out conflict. It does not encourage patience, understanding and a willingness to overlook slights.

"It is to one's honour to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel." Proverbs 20:3




Another feature of sophisticated intellect is the readiness to identify faults in others and correct them. While there is a role for correction, it needs to be done in love and understanding of where the individual is. We must deal appropriately with people where they are now.




There are going to be people who will be incessantly irritating. Allowing them to impact your peace of mind time after time is unwise. Do not give them power over you. Refuse to understand what they are trying to do and simply ignore them. Getting upset empowers them.

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- Trevor E. S. Smith is a director of the Success with People Academy, home of the SHRM-accredited certified behavioural coach award (now enrolling) and 3-D Team Leader Certification: Leading difficult, dominant and diverse personalities. The Success with People Academy applies DISCerning communication while improving recruitment & team performance. It prepares personal & team behavioural DNA analyses and 360 surveys on the revolutionary FinxS Platform from extended DISC.