At my age, I am baffled by the world in which I am living. Young people assume it’s because I’m old and getting senile, but it’s exactly the opposite. Old, yes. Senile, no.
You see, age has made me cagey, wily, cunning. But at the same time, it has hardened me. Increased my cynical streak and general distrust of human behavior. I actually believe they are out to get me.
To be more accurate, those people are out to get us all.
“How can anyone be that stupid?” Garry and I ask each other as we watch a movie, the news, or sports. “Why would anybody do that? What did they think was going to happen?”
Like the guy who fell into the Grand Canyon trying to take a selfie. Or Trump and his sycophants, although I suppose we can assume they at least are aiming to rule the world by greed and corruption. And then, there’s Brexit.
What is WRONG with everyone?
From the manager who lets the star pitcher stay in the game until his minor injury accelerates to a major one that will keep him out all next season. To teenagers who think not learning in school is the same as “beating the system.” To people texting while driving and seniors buying expensive luxury cars they can’t afford to run much less pay-off on their fixed incomes — all to impress other seniors who don’t care. It’s a world of marching morons.
After the irreversible deed is done, someone will inevitably ask us: “So. What do you think about … (fill in the blank) … ” and we are left speechless. What do we think? Why are you asking us now? Wouldn’t the time to ask have been before you did it? Is it okay for me to say “I think you’re a moron?”
Can I answer honestly? “You are screwing yourself and you will regret it for the rest of your life.” Would that be cruel or worse, politically incorrect? Can I ask, “And how’s that working out for you?”
Probably we should just keep doing what we always do. Smile. Say something bland and hope they leave before we find ourselves saying something we actually mean. Something memorable and unforgivable.
It’s beyond baffling. Not merely stupid, it’s also cruel, destructive, and rotten. I used to worry about the march of evil in our midst, how the bad guys keep winning. These days, I don’t so much worry about the bad guys. They have always been with us and always will be. I worry far more about the morons who follow them. They are all marching to the beat of a drum they don’t even hear but are forever marching towards their personal, welcoming oblivion.
The Marching Morons was a science fiction short story by C.M. Kornbluth originally published in Galaxy in April 1951. This dark and prescient story of a future devolved to idiocy remains one of the most frightening visions to have emerged from the science fiction of that decade.
Proposing a future United States overwhelmed by a population of low IQ citizens — a consequence of over-breeding amongst the stupid — Kornbluth was writing of his observed present. The steady, inexorable descent of human intelligence obsessed Kornbluth. It was one of his major themes and reached its truest statement in this novelette.
And sometimes, sixty years later, as I look around me, I get a shiver of recognition down my spine and wonder where the line can be drawn between science fiction and the world in which I live. Is there a line? Or have we already crossed it and left it far behind us.
It’s just cost me 62-cents for the Kindle version on Amazon. Probably 62-cents well spent.