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  • In the darkest chapter of German history, during a time when incited mobs threw stones

  • into the windows of innocent shop owners and women and children were cruelly humiliated

  • in the open; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young pastor, began to speak publicly against the

  • atrocities.

  • After years of trying to change people's minds, Bonhoeffer came home one evening and his own

  • father had to tell him that two men were waiting in his room to take him away.

  • In prison, Bonhoeffer began to reflect on how his country of poets and thinkers had

  • turned into a collective of cowards, crooks and criminals.

  • Eventually he concluded that the root of the problem was not malice, but stupidity.

  • In his famous letters from prison, Bonhoeffer argued that stupidity is a more dangerous

  • enemy of the good than malice, because whileone may protest against evil; it can be

  • exposed and prevented by the use of force, against stupidity we are defenseless.

  • Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here.

  • Reasons fall on deaf ears.”

  • Facts that contradict a stupid person's prejudgment simply need not be believed and

  • when they are irrefutable, they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental.

  • In all this the stupid person, is self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous

  • by going on the attack.

  • For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than

  • with a malicious one.

  • If we want to know how to get the better of stupidity, we must seek to understand its

  • nature.

  • This much is certain, stupidity is in essence not an intellectual defect but a moral one.

  • There are human beings who are remarkably agile intellectually yet stupid, and others

  • who are intellectually dull yet anything but stupid.

  • The impression one gains is not so much that stupidity is a congenital defect but that,

  • under certain circumstances, people are made stupid or rather, they allow this to happen

  • to them.

  • People who live in solitude manifest this defect less frequently than individuals in

  • groups.

  • And so it would seem that stupidity is perhaps less a psychological than a sociological problem.

  • It becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power, be it of a political or religious

  • nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity.

  • Almost as if this is a sociological-psychological law where the power of the one needs the stupidity

  • of the other.

  • The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, such as intellect, suddenly

  • fail.

  • Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived

  • of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up an autonomous position.

  • The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us from the fact that he is

  • not independent.

  • In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as

  • a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him.

  • He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and is abused in his very being.

  • Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil - incapable

  • of seeing that it is evil.

  • Only an act of liberation, not instruction, can overcome stupidity.

  • Here we must come to terms with the fact that in most cases a genuine internal liberation

  • becomes possible only when external liberation has preceded it.

  • Until then, we must abandon all attempts to convince the stupid person.

  • Bonhoeffer died due to his involvement in a plot against Adolf Hitler at dawn on 9 April

  • 1945 at Flossenbürg concentration camp just two weeks before soldiers from the United

  • States liberated the camp.

  • Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.

  • The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”

  • Bonhoeffer once said.

  • Check the description below to read Bonhoeffer's original text, "After Ten Years"

  • For more information about Bonhoeffer or to download this video without background music,

  • go to

In the darkest chapter of German history, during a time when incited mobs threw stones

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Bonhoeffer‘s Theory of Stupidity

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    Summer posted on 2021/10/15
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