It is hard to point to a more illuminating example of a dangerous combination of stupidity and greed (even more than the on-going global financial meltdown) than an email that landed in my inbox this morning. The subject line was “If any body delete Shiridi Sai Baba message without darshan & forwa” and it was forwarded by one Mr K R Tilak. Evidently I was the lucky recipient after a few dozen forwards, and all the forwarding information was intact. The content appeared after pages and pages of long lists of email addresses to which the message had been forwarded. The content was brief:
This is a true story, plz don’t ignore.
An officer has received 2 million dollars after sending it. Robert lost more than 2.1 millions for not sending and breaking this chain letter. Please send 20 copies and see what happens in 4 days.This chain letter comes from SHIRDI !! You will definitely receive some good news in 48 hours!!!!
One wonders why the world is in such a sorry state. Then one realizes that the world has a large number of Tilaks — people so stupid and so greedy that they will be hard-pressed to hold a logical and worthwhile thought in their heads. And yet these people vote and perhaps constitute the majority of the population.
It is wise not to make too sweeping a conclusion from such a trivial mail forward. But I think we underestimate the power of generalized stupidity. What else can explain the fact that the elected politicians are uniformly stupid and greedy if not the fact that the people who vote for them are themselves stupid and greedy?
Should the likes of Mr Tilak be neutered? It would be a good start.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.