Marolt: Keeping the superiority complex within the building envelope
In this day of heightened awareness of blatant and destructive racism too commonly occurring in our world, who would be dumb enough to admit that they have felt superior to other human beings? Me, me, me! Yes, ashamedly, I have felt like I am a higher-quality person because I can turn a pair of skis well; never mind that I have been practicing a lifetime and I am probably not as good as I should be.
It has taken awhile, but I see that such feelings might be a second cousin to racism. You can’t deny the family resemblance. Although inadvisable to admit something like this, momentum is difficult to stop when it comes to things of great weight, including those I ponder over a second cup of coffee, so I will go on.
I also have felt superior to other human beings because I wear the same size jeans as I did in high school, don’t have much gray hair and once held the peacock pose for over a minute. I admit that I have felt greater simply because I live in Aspen. Actually, there is a long list of things that have given me the feeling that I am a better human being that are even more inconsequential than these. If I were more humble, I would list the silly “accomplishments” I’ve used to make my ego stand up straight.
I do and I don’t hope that I am not alone in occasionally indulging the delusion of superiority. If I am alone in this illusion, then the world truly has a bright future. If I’m not the only one who occasionally feels like they are made from higher-quality clay, then at least I can stick around town knowing I am in, if not good company, at least a semi-normal crowd.
The good news is that feeling is not necessarily believing. If I get to park in the Employee of the Month spot for doing a good job, excuse me for feeling better than everyone else in the lunchroom, because it is inevitably temporary. On the drive home, I realize that nobody cares about my award, least of all the guy who just cut me off. Like that, I’m just another guy stuck in traffic on Earth.
So, we have to be patient with one another if we act like bigger-than-normal shots when somebody gives us a promotion, bonus or award or even when we hook ourselves up with an expensive convertible that the television commercial promises will transform our lives. That’s kind of the way we’ve wired our world to work. It’s our twisted interpretation of normal action and reaction.
Even still, it’s leather soles on an icy sidewalk we’re strutting down. If in our quietest moments of contemplation we know our superiority is nothing more than a feeling we created, there is an angel chipping ice off the path ahead. If, on the other hand, we actually begin to believe we are superhuman beings, we start to treat others as subhuman. This leads to racism, bigotry, hatred and, possibly worst of all, complete indifference to others’ basic need for love and acceptance.
Although few people so profoundly believe in their own superiority that they become blatant misanthropes, unfortunately, those few promote a lot of evil and create tons of human suffering though premeditated abominations and unconscionable atrocities.
I promise you, that is not where I’m heading with my pride leading the way down through the moguls on Ridge of Bell Mountain. But, while I don’t see my own superiority complex negatively affecting too many people, I have begun to realize how much an inflated ego limits me. If turning a ski or throwing a baseball really fast is what makes me feel superior and I start to need the nourishment from that nonsensical affirmation, then I have to devote a lot of time to silly things that preserve my fake identity. This prevents me from exploring a whole lot of other things that might be more meaningful and, thus, more fulfilling.
Everybody has gifts. And I think a person who does not pursue the development of theirs is a fool. But doing things better than others is not the same as being better than others. The world is full of people with special talents who are especially awful human beings. What separates the humanists from the egoists is recognizing a gift to make the world a better place instead of employing it to glitter-up an unrecognizable reflection in the bathroom mirror.
Roger Marolt knows Aspen grows egos like a mountain garden grows rhubarb. Email email@example.com.
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