Dietrich Bonhoeffer speaks to woke society today
Prior to World War II, many Christian congregations and clergy in Germany jumped on the Hitler bandwagon. One exception to this trend was Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Witnessing Kristallnacht, the wholesale 1938 Nazi attack on Germany's Jewish community, Bonhoeffer resisted collaboration with the Nazi regime and proceeded to speak publicly against Hitler's euthanasia program and the genocidal persecution of Jews.
By 1940, Bonhoeffer joined the resistance, and in 1943, he was arrested for his efforts to rescue Jews, although the charges against him were eventually expanded to his being involved in the plot to assassinate Hitler. Bonhoeffer spent one and a half years incarcerated at Tegel Prison until he was transferred first to a Gestapo facility and then to Flossenbürg concentration camp, where he was executed by hanging on April 9, 1945, two weeks before Tegel prisoners were liberated by U.S. troops. It was during his time at Tegel Prison that Bonhoeffer wrote numerous letters and papers, with his letter on stupidity being one of his most impactful.
Bonhoeffer concluded that the root of the Nazi problem was not malice, but stupidity. Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice, because while one may protest against evil, and it can be exposed and prevented by the use of force, against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplishes anything here. Reasons fall on deaf ears, says Bonhoeffer. Any facts presented to a stupid person that contradict their prejudgment, simply are not to be believed and even if the evidence is irrefutable, they are pushed aside as inconsequential or incidental. The stupid person is self-satisfied and, if irritated by counterarguments, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. With this in mind, the stupid person is more dangerous, with greater caution needed.
Is this stupidity part of a person's DNA or influenced by his environment? Really neither, as Bonhoeffer explains: stupidity is in essence not an intellectual defect, but a moral one. There are human beings who are remarkably agile intellectually yet stupid, and others who are intellectually dull yet anything but stupid. Stupidity is not so much a biological defect; rather, under certain circumstances, people allow this to shape who they become.
People who live in solitude manifest this defect less frequently than individuals in groups. It would seem that stupidity is perhaps less a psychological than a sociological problem. Under rising power like what we saw in Nazi Germany, humans are deprived of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up an autonomous position. In conversations with a stupid person, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him.
Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil — incapable of seeing that it is evil. Biblical Scripture states that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, declares that internal liberation of human beings to live the responsible life before God is the only genuine way to overcome stupidity. Countering this stupidity will depend on whether those in power expect more from people's stupidity than from their inner independence and wisdom.
There are many obvious parallels to today's woke movement. When stupidity is indoctrinated into our education system, our future becomes bleak. Our school systems, now heavily influenced by the woke movement, have become less about learning and more about indoctrination. Especially alarming is the CRT labeling of timeliness, accuracy in math, showing your work, and scientific accuracy as "White Qualities" and its contention that imposing them on others is "racist." These aren't "White Qualities," but attributes required of everyone in order to succeed in life. CRT beliefs and much of what is indoctrinated by the woke encourage taking away the ladder of success, keeping people from improving their lives and stuck in government dependence.
Update: This post was updated to clarify facts about Bonhoeffer's arrest and execution.