Derek Debois was born on a hot July afternoon. As a first child his proud mother and father cradled his 6 pound body and contemplated the magnificent contributions he would make to his new world. Derek’s father, Lois was an anxiously involved father. He changed diapers, pushed swings in the park and read stories at bed time. The older Derek grew the more Lois became excited about what his son would become.
One afternoon when Derek was two years old his mother took him to the doctor for a checkup. Upon examination by the doctor it was determined that Derek was not mentally up to the standards of other kids his age. Being an only child Derek’s mother and father had never been too clear on what types of things their young son should be able to accomplish. They saw that he was affectionate and friendly; He ate well and smiled often. They loved their son and thought him perfect – as most parents do.
As a baby Derek became emotionally attached to a small blanket his mother had made for his crib before his birth. Derek took his blanket with him everywhere and was often abnormally stressed without it. The older Derek grew the more his mental delay was evident and the more he relied on the comfort of his blanket.
Naturally, Lois was disappointed by the news that his only son would never be smart and perhaps never even be capable of mediocre accomplishments; gone were Lois’ dreams of Derek doing something great.
As the years went past and Derek continued to act like a very small child, Lois distanced himself from his family. Derek was an idiot who could not even do the simplest of mental tasks and Lois’ wife seemed ignorant of Derek’s struggles. She continued each day to coddle him and give him whatever he needed to find contentment.
Feeling out of control in a house filled with people of such low intellect Lois began making snide and hurtful comments to Derek and his mother about Derek’s blanket. “What 5 year old little boy takes a blanket to kindergarten?” “What’s the matter? The retard can’t move without a snuggly in his arms?” “It’s no wonder you don’t have any friends with that tattered mess constantly hanging over your shoulder.” With every hurtful comment Derek would approach his father and with arms wrapped around his legs he would say, “But Daddy, it makes me so happy. Would you like to hold it too and see how happy it can make you?”
Derek’s constant love and affection, given so freely to his father never wavered but Lois’s insults continued to increase. In fact, Lois had made such an issue of Derek’s blanket that it soon fully consumed him. He always berated his wife for her support of the nasty little accessory and he even found himself talking to his friends and coworkers about it. He simply couldn’t believe that he; an intelligent, educated, knowledgeable, and astute man was forced to live with unwise, foolish, and simple people like his wife and child. Lois lived in utter torment as he continuously asked himself questions like, “Why did I marry a woman who could not give me an intelligent child? Why does my boy insist on being accompanied by such an unsightly object? Why can my child not focus long enough to learn his letters and numbers? Surely if he wasn’t so concerned with the blanket he could pay attention long enough to learn simple words! Reading, arithmetic, history, science, and geography are simple concepts that normal humans are perfectly capable of learning, why was this boy SO STUPID? Does he not see that unless he learns all the things I know he will never grow to be noticed and well respected? Does he not understand that by leaning on his blanket for support he is being held back from becoming the son all proud fathers dream of? Will he never let go of this crutch and use the wisdom and knowledge I can teach him to become great and wonderful like me?”
Before too long Lois had forgotten all the things he loved about his wife and son. His love and dedication to his family had been replaced by a repulsion of their stupidity. He went from being verbally abusive to physically abusive. He carried so much anger in his heart that he lost his ability to communicate with people in everyday situations. He lost his job. He turned to his books and libraries to occupy his angered mind and prove to all who would listen that he was still smart, even if his family was plain. He loathed the simple mind of his wife who unconditionally loved his imbecile son and his ridiculous need for emotional comfort.
In the end Lois lost all; his wife, his child, his job, and his happiness, all because he was too ‘smart’ to understand the needs of those who were less intelligent than himself.
Dale Carnegie once said, ‘Judge people by their principles not by your own’. The same can be said for all forms of judgment. Next time we feel tempted to correct, persuade, or in some way ‘educate’ a person who isn’t looking for our opinion may we remember to judge people by THEIR intellect not by our own; for it is highly possible that they understand far more than they let on and that they very possibly find great happiness at their current level of understanding. The meaning of life has never been intelligence but rather happiness and what makes one person happy may be of no interest to another.