I have a bad habit. I assume that there are a few truths in life that are self-evident and that all hold them to be true. Not so. Every time that I am reminded of this, it shocks me. The horrible deeds that one man can mete out to his fellow man, never do. You would think that I would immediately make the connection and understand that these things are only possible BECAUSE these few simple truths are not held by all people.
Before I dumped facebook, I was in contact with an old fellow employee and friend of mine through their IM and email functions there. We caught up on friends and family then our own lives and finally it came down to life itself. I never really knew this woman that well, but I was amazed that at one point in our conversation she revealed to me, rather nonchalantly, that she truly believed that there are people that are “better” than her. I had no ready response to this, what I consider to be the blasphemy of all blasphemies. She also told me that she was a dedicated follower of Tony Robbins, a fellow that until then I hadn’t heard of. But at the time I thought that he must be behind this strange and horrible personal view that she held. When I found that he was nothing more than just another motivational/self-help guru in it for the fame and fortune, I tried to ply a bit deeper into this faith that she had, of subordination to others.
To her it was simple. There were people that were just better than she. “How better?”, I asked. “Just better”…she answered. Now this is not a well-educated or intelligent woman that I am describing, obviously. However she is a human being. One that is happy to take a lower rung in life. I cannot express the shock of that revelation which came over me. How can you hold this to be true, and continue living?
I have recently revisited “Crime and Punishment” . If I could have one wish in this veil of tears, it would be to write that beautifully. To think that clearly. To move that profoundly. But I digress.
As I am sure you remember about this, Dostoevsky’s most perfect novel, his protagonist held a similar philosophy. He was of the opinion, that there are ordinary people(obviously a classification in which my friend feels comfortable)…and then there are the “extraordinary”. These are our leaders, our Generals, our Napoleons. Raskolnikov mistakenly assumed he belonged to the latter group. And because of this he felt it his duty and right to commit murder wherever he saw fit, without the “ordinary” repercussions. Well, of course that isn’t the way it happened. He doled out his own punishment for his crime, even before society had the chance.
At a critical point, Raskolnikov was discussing his crime and eventual punishment with a Christian friend, and denounced the law by saying that although he would be caught, he would NOT be humiliated or treated like a common criminal. Her answer was “you are such a proud man”. That answer, struck him, as I am sure it did the reader, like a bolt of lightning. Pride, he thought…had brought him to this sorry state.
Now I realize that I am dragging you two times around the barn to get to the house, but hang in there…this makes a lot of sense to me.
Any anthropologist will tell you that just as in the lower forms of animal life, we humans feel the need to be in some way “better” than our peers. It hasn’t been explained by science much further than that…just a phenomenon that must have it’s roots is some survival thingy. This urge can manifest itself in many varied ways. Leadership…charity…prejudice and yes, hatred. It is a peculiar notion. One of those ancient drives that is better off suppressed.
We all feel this need. And it is powerful yet it can be overcome. And of the very,very few things with which I concur in most religions, is the effort for the repression of this tendency. Most religions except judaism. The talmud, the torah and the old testament encourage this behaviour pattern and all the ills that it brings.
In a recent lecture by Gilad Atzmon, he posed the simple question of when did we abandon the attitude of turn-the-other-cheek of the new testament, for the horribly violent eye-for-an-eye philosophy of the old testament? Well, the answer is obvious. The old testament is a jewish document. Judaism has brought us back to this notion of pride and supremacy. Pride assumes superiority and superiority leads to all the ills of this world…and there are none so “proud” as “the Chosen”.
And yet they cannot see this in themselves. As Macluhan observed, the last thing a fish will tell you, in describing it’s environment, is that it is all under water.
There is a reason that pride is among the seven deadly sins. But then again aren’t the jewish guilty of ALL of these sins. And yet even today, there is a huge faction of supposed Christians that subscribe to jews being “better” than us all.
Sometimes people amaze me…