My family is so dumb

This letter writer feels that his education has separated him from his family. 

I know how you feel, says our elder. Continue to expand your horizons, but respect your family too.


Dear EWC

Nowadays I get offended very easily. I am 23, preparing to get a job. I feel intellectual and I demand to be in an atmosphere like it. But when I talk with my brother, family, I think I don’t belong here. Why? Because their talk is so dumb, irrespective and irresponsible. This stresses my mind. I feel offended and I reply to them ruthlessly. I shouldn’t be here or what am I doing here. It’s like I talk with responsibility, credibility and to the point. But when an educated person talks like road side, it feels awkward to me and I hate it. I have no friends. I had someone I loved but we separated because of some issues. I don’t have a job. So, my life is spent studying government policies, syllabus and books. So, my mind is also a little stressed and depressed. But I do and firmly believe that they are dumb and irresponsible, depressive people. How to handle it and manage mental peace? I’m a simple and good person, but now I’m losing myself. Help me. Please. Thanks.


PJH replies

I know how you feel! I’ve had, and still have to some degree, the experience of being isolated by my sense of sophistication about themes and issues I regard as important. My sources for news and cultural issues are not widely read by my family and neighborhood acquaintances, and there are times when I’m tempted to feel superior. And I am, of course, swiftly punished by the isolation that ensues – and ensures. 

As you know, education has created a gulf between you and your family. One root of the word, educare, means to lead out, and, indeed, that is what happens to many people who enjoy a little intellectual growth and find themselves separated from their origins. It’s a hazard that’s inflated by pride, and the solution requires affirming our humility in the face of our continued ignorance of the world and its ways. As the 18th-century poet and philosopher Alexander Pope wrote, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” He follows this admonition with the following: “Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring; There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.”

If this quote is new to you, I’ll leave you to explore its deeper meanings. The point I’m making is there’s always more to learn than any of us will ever master, so our minor elevation on the tree of knowledge doesn’t justify any attitudes that separate us from our fellows, but it does allow us to seek the company of folk who respond with recognition to our ideas and discoveries. Indeed, while I think you have a responsibility to put your education to use and your wellbeing requires you to find social connections in accord with it. But you have an equally important obligation to respect the views of people who lead their lives with honesty and integrity, regardless of their intellectual abilities. I urge you to discover how to be a person who others seek out for your wisdom rather than ignore you because they don’t understand you or reject you for your arrogance.

Please know I see you as someone wanting to fit in while being determined to expand your horizons. It’s you and a million other young adults who have gained the benefits of education while they search for a perch where they can exercise them.

Take heart, keep searching, keep honing your skills and expanding your knowledge. And feel free to write back. I’d be happy to hear from you.

Article #: 479934

Category: Self-Improvement

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