When Haley Joel Osment told Bruce Willis ominously in N. Night Shyamalan's movie The Sixth Sense this, "I see dead people", I too had a similar experience. Only this time, I experienced a different apparition. For me, it is this: "I see stupid people." No, seriously, I see them. They are alive and well, roaming the earth.
They are actually not hard to find. Contrary to conventional belief, they do not hide under rocks or behind locked doors. Neither do they come out only at night and retire just before dawn. They are not discreet about it. Neither are they ashamed of it. These apparitions walk amongst us with a confidence that shines brighter than stadium floodlights. They also come in varying forms and shapes, hues and textures. But they all carry something in common. That common thread is ignorance. That's what stands out in them.
The hierarchy of these phantom menace works this way: The more ignorant they are, the higher they are in ranks. The generals with stars to boot are usually the politicians, preachers, intellectuals and a fair amount of common folks (especially when they come in a group to form an unthinking mob). And the lower in ranks are distinguished by their age. The younger ones are at the bottom and they inevitably progress up as they advance in age. Some are even in the fast track to generalship.
Now, the politicians are in this category for obvious reasons. They are elected – mostly by popularity (because the crowd are easily sway-able). But the votes cast for them really have nothing whatsoever to do with how well they will perform in office. It represents a vote of confidence at present and not the fulfillment of the electoral promises in the future. The bridging of the gap (between the present and future) has yet to be tested. This is as plain as vanilla of course. Notwithstanding the brevity of political tenure (just 4 or 5 years or 2 short terms), these politicians are however compelled for the purpose of campaigning to promise their voters the sky.
They will inevitably claim that they know more than the next candidate. Suddenly, they are all uber-knowledgeable. They readily project that image of "I know what I am saying and doing" - even when they haven't the faintest clue what awaits them the next day after election victory. And because their perceived image is that of the savior of the country, and at the same time, they have to struggle to wear their pants one leg at a time, you can imagine how a complete red-flashing derriere they will make of themselves in office. Donald Trump actually comes to mind here despite his burgeoning popularity and the widening margin at the polls. Mind boggling right?
Then, we have the preachers. These are usually the pulpit slamming, Bible stomping personality "A" type. Nowadays, they usually come in the rainbow-colored cloak of prosperity and everlasting love. Somehow they seem to have the eyes, ears and heartbeat of the Creator of the Universe. And if smoke can get in one's eye, then these preachers are the apple of God's eye. The well polished apple type.
On stage, they act as if they are more favored than the Jews by virtue of the New Covenant. They somehow know more than every other pastor down the street and they freely claim that their new spin on the scriptures have got the divine endorsement (or divine head spinning). They are cocksure that their word over the pulpit is wholly God-inspired and any other sermon against it is simply God-defiant. They preach about heaven and hell like they are its regular tourists, proclaim grace and love like God is at their service, and clamor for donations and prosperity like nothing is amiss.
But the reality - if one is discerning enough - is really far from it. This is where their ignorance shines brighter than a supernova. Most times, their messages are practically one-size-fits-all, their revelation is self-serving and even self-indulgent, and their teachings give the illusion that they have found the answer to all of life's most vexing mysteries - when in reality, they have merely found a better moonshine to suck out more prosperity for themselves. And thanks to the suggestible masses (who wants to hear what they want to hear), there is enough moonshine to go around the planet and back.
Actually, allow me to drop a thought here: I have discovered that the more ignorant you are, the more you claim you know. And the more you claim you know, the more glaring your ignorance. It’s like a butt-naked baboon climbing up a tree and the higher it climbs, the more visible his bottoms become. And it’s a vicious cycle too because the world is hungry (desperate even) for answers; or at least a surrogate or an approximate of it. And the approximation can be a galaxy away from the reality or truth we do not want to face.
Most times, it's all about the presentation, stage presence and packaging. Because all that glitters is not gold, but who cares about the gold when the shiny stuff works just as well right? It is the same with hope. Not all hope leads us to the truth, but who cares about the truth when empty hope works just as swell?
So, I am back to seeing stupid people. They are everywhere. They make their presence felt - sometimes too close for comfort. And they are real - sometimes stranger than fiction. In fact, just the other day, one of them passed me by. Surprisingly, he raised his hand in salute to me and called me "Colonel Mike". Alas, I have unwittingly joined their ranks. I am the ghost. The ghost is me. I guess that's the same twist with Bruce Willis' character in The Sixth Sense movie. Cheerz.