Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Inferior and Superior People
I used to belong to a lot of "debate" groups a few years back. In one of those groups, a topic was posted about how to gauge "inferior" or "superior" people. Without the other person's permission, I don't feel comfortable sharing their side of the conversation. Because I found the exchange so interesting, I saved the posts to my computer. This week I'll share a few of the parts I authored each day. I will paraphrase the segments I responded to for clarity.
Gauging Inferior and Superior People
Paraphrased: Once we learn how to assess inferior and superior qualities in people, we can choose to disengage from those who are inferior and make room for blessings in our lives.
My response: In essence--what you're saying here is that when one displays qualities others see as 'superior'--we earn respect. When that same person displays qualities other see as "inferior"--we earn their disrespect?
Yet couldn't the very same quality be judged two different ways by different people?
For instance, if one were to stick up for a woman [being discriminated against, the person discriminating against her] would see that as an "inferior" quality--while the woman being discriminated against--would see that as a "superior" quality--right?
So in the end, if others are going to judge one according to their personal views on life--don't we simply owe it to ourselves to be true to who we are, our values, and what we deem important?
I believe in MLK's words that we all have intrinsic worth. None of us are inferior to the next person. Each human being is innately human.
Paraphrased: We must be thoughtful about the food we put into our bodies, just as we must be thoughtful about what we feed our minds to protect our fundamental well-being. An inferior person feeds his ego and should be avoided.
My response: I believe that ignorance on any subject is not something we should seek, no matter how appalling that subject is. For instance, I find child abuse of any sort hard to stomach--but to ignore it in order to try to protect my "fundamental well-being" would be rather selfish, and I'm sure you can agree that being 'selfish' is not a quality anyone should try to attain.
I would consider it a great misfortune to live a life where I believe anyone is inferior. I would consider it a great misfortune to segregate myself away from ANY human being and what I can learn from each and every person.
One would miss the blessing of learning how superior those deemed 'inferior' actually are, one would miss the blessing of learning that our judgments on others is often proven wrong by intimate knowledge of that other. One would miss the blessing of learning about our own strengths and weaknesses. In fact, I can think of no true blessing one gains from ostracizing others from our lives.
I think that we have little control over how some may view us. Sure, there are ways to make ourselves clear and to behave in a way one would assume would be considered 'respectable' by the society we interact in--however, that doesn't mean people within that society don't bring their own mindset to the table.
Globally, we can see how certain expected traits within any given culture are taboo in others. For instance, I know in some cultures it's expected that you will be asked to divulge how much money you have--while in others (mine) it is considered the height of rudeness.
Should I judge that other, from another culture, by my own cultural standards? Or do I do that based on what is normal for them? Of course I would choose the latter, but there are many who would choose the former in my culture. In my culture, some believe if you don't speak our language or swear allegiance to our way of life, you don't belong here. (I disagree.) Yet in many other places in the world, that's not the case at all and views such as those would be seen as odd--to say it nicely ;)
So, perspective and culture plays a large factor in how one's behavior/views are judged. To me, there is no way that we can be human and *never* be in the position where someone won't judge our quality as being inferior or superior. The judges are just as fallible (human) as those they judge.
Striving to be superior by defining inferiority, in my opinion, is a monumental waste of our energy. What we should be striving for, I believe, is understanding and knowledge because it affords us the stronger possibility that we can adhere to our values in any given situation.
The one truism that I have encountered in my life is that people always surprise me. Just when I think I know a person, can predict how they may respond in a given situation, they do something completely out of the blue that shocks me.
I think the most one can do is assess themselves and how they do respond, how they wish they responded, or how they would not want to respond.