Home > Archives > Family First >
Stupid Hammer?
Photo: Dreamstime
“Stupid hammer!” my friend shouted as he threw the tool across the floor. It slid into a plastic jar of screws and sent them flying.

“Hammers can’t be stupid,” I mumbled from the other room where I was helping him hang sheet rock, “only people can be stupid.” He glared at me and left the room. “Maybe I shouldn’t have shared my ‘helpful advice’,” I reflected as I continued to drive screws into the wall. I was just about finished when the battery died on my drill. “Stupid drill,” I said under my breath.

My college professor first shared the notion that “things aren’t stupid, only people can be stupid.” While I don’t recall the rest of that day’s lecture, I’ve never forgotten his quip. Why can’t things be stupid? Because objects don’t make choices and “stupid” is about choices.

It really boils down to personal responsibility. When something doesn’t work right, we are tempted to blame something or someone. We don’t want to own the problem; we’d rather shift it elsewhere. That’s acting stupid. I realize “stupid” can be a strong word that has been used to verbally abuse others, but if we stick with the strict meaning of the word (“lacking normal intelligence”), it is less likely a hammer will be stupid and more likely a human being like you and me.

Listen and Think

Reactive behavior originates from the “fight or flight” parts of our brains that don’t stop to analyze or reflect. It’s a good part of your brain when someone throws a hammer at you and you quickly duck. But if we constantly live reactively, we begin to “fight or flight” in areas of our lives where we need to listen and think.

For instance, when your spouse says to you after a party, “I need to talk with you when we get home…” and you think, “Yeah, well what did I do now? Maybe I have a thing or two to say also!” you are acting “stupid.” One definition of stupid is “an irritating failure to understand quickly or to react intelligently.” You cannot read your spouse’s mind. Judging others and not being willing to listen fits still another definition of stupid which says, “The capacity for learning is below average.”

So, the next time you are tempted to throw a hammer across the room, or a drill on the floor, or jump to conclusions in your relationships with others and call them “stupid”, make a choice. Stop and look in the mirror for 60 seconds and think.

Respond to this article   View Reader Comments

By Curtis Rittenour. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

SiteMap. Powered by SimpleUpdates.com © 2002-2018. User Login / Customize.