Previous section: “Introduction“
Today’s section from Descending into War, Descending into Contempt, pp. 3-5:
CONFLICT has many sources of support. The sources feed conflict when they are elevated beyond control. Each conflict source contributes to contemptuous behavior or to deliberate indifference. Each conflict has its specific sources and unique circumstances. Nonetheless, there are similarities among conflicts.
Contempt is built through feelings of superiority, feelings of inequity, feelings of disappointment, and feelings of emasculation. Each of these destructive feelings will be explored and their contributions to conflict considered.
The feeling of superiority is a strange phenomenon. All people are similar, and yet, there are some who consider themselves superior. These people believe that race membership, financial status, gender affiliation, nationality, religion, and/or education entitle them to raised social status. Physical attractiveness, athletic prowess, and fashion taste are other factors in people acting superior.
Superiority by nationality is the viewing of other nationalities in a condescending way. Feeling better than everyone who lives outside one’s own country is a sense of superiority that is confrontational behavior and enemy building.
Geographical reality creates differences among countries, because some countries are situated with enviable conditions and resources that inspire jealousy or resentment. A country possessing enviable conditions and resources often maintains citizens who feel entitled to their reality and are possessive of it. Adjacent countries may have conditions and resources that are also deserving of pride, but the other country’s richness seems desirous, and so, the citizens of the adjacent countries may feel resentful or covetous. The clash of entitlement and resentment can lead to rivalries, racism, and wars.
Superiority by nationality describes relationships among countries, but it can also describe relationships among areas within a country, towns within a province, neighborhoods within a city, and loyalty to schools or universities. At each level, the location, historical development, and geographical reality affect how citizens see their environment and the environments of those who inhabit rival territories. Those who feel they have more behave differently from those who feel deprived. Each side can feel superior and relate to the other as less than them. The feelings of superiority at the local and inner-country levels can lead to rivalries, treachery, and self-destruction.
Superiority by consideration of one’s sex as better creates conflict within society at the family level, within neighborhoods and religions, and in nations. Gender superiority is often inculcated from an early age, so that belief in one’s gender superiority is very deep.
Contempt towards “inferiors” develops more easily in those with a sense of gender superiority.
Superiority is a learned behavior. A child is self-interested, because he has his own concerns that consume his attention. This behavior is inborn. The child focuses on himself, not from a sense of superiority, but from the need to survive.
The child encounters others with curiosity, joy, and fear. When a caregiver over-elevates the child’s sense of himself, encounters with others have lessened curiosity, joy, and fear and more expectations of subservience (by the others).
Internal sense of superiority develops from a young age and can be based on gender, race, physical appearance, and attitude. Later come superiority based on religion, social standing, intelligence, and financial status. Subservient behavior by others and athletic prowess can increase the sense of superiority.