Previous section: “Contempt Multiplying into Conflict, Feelings of Superiority“
Today’s section from Descending into War, Descending into Contempt, pp. 6-9:
Superiority Because of Religion
Many paths of elevation are available and desirable for reaching connection with God. Solitary prayer unites divinity with creation for the moments the connection is true. Prayer in groups unites divinity with creation for elevated connection when the connection is sincere. Both solitary prayer and grouped prayer are paths to God.
Grouped prayers, which are developed into set pronouncements with set movements, remove creativity in building spiritual connection, but encourage human connection. Repetition of “scripts” and routine observances enable feelings of human connection that transcend death. This connection can bind the living with the dead who preceded them, and bind the living with future generations.
Grouped prayer connects the people who accept the group’s observances and concept of divinity. Acceptance offers approach to God, scripts that guide the approach, and visions to ponder Almighty: the majestic energy that connects all.
Sincere dedication to life lived with awareness of connection to God is realistic. The connection focuses and elevates daily living.
Dedication to the grouped approach to God—to the religion—is dedication missing the meaning. Religion is an accessway for connecting to God; it is not the destination. Elevating the religion, rather than the divine connection, disconnects people from God. Religions are approaches, they are not possessions to be coveted or aggrandized. They do not need to be compared or debated.
Superiority is not a word to describe a religion. No religion that is based on the connection with God is better than any other. Feeling superior because of religious affiliation lessens the beauty of the religion.
Religious superiority is the most destructive belief of all. No religious group has closer connection to God than any other. No group!
Condescension because of race is irrational. Belittling others because of race is weak. Generalizing about race is uninformed. Thinking disparaging thoughts about other races is contemptuous.
Superiority because of the foolish thinking that race has influence on value is deluded. No race is superior to any other. Race is variations of people. No more, no less.
Superiority in Societies
Feeling superior can be intricate, based on all the causes set out above, or it can be single-cause—no matter, the sense of superiority is there. It affects all relationships and all interactions.
Societal sense of superiority, like individual sense of superiority, is learned. The entire society can feel superior, as in an overinflated opinion of race or nationality, or it can be bestowed upon members of society who are treated “better” because of gender, physical appearance, financial power, athletic prowess, and other factors like fashion taste or musical/artistic abilities.
Superiority infuses society with discontent and entitlement. Superiority brings envy and distancing. Each individual builds the societal sense of superiority with internal feelings of being better than others, or by accepting the societal definitions of superior race or gender, or having subservient expectations.
The sense of superiority is distancing and clouds judgment when interacting with others. The sense of superiority tarnishes dialogue and creates contempt. As people distance, misjudge and condescend, they define a society that is uncaring and disconnected. Such a society cannot nurture its members or provide empathy.
Societal superiority affects external events. For example, natural disasters that would be handled by the affected group in a communal manner descend into further disaster because of conflicts among the group members. The more ingrained the feelings of superiority, the less the desire to help others. Disaster relief that should be inclusive is not. Those with more, be it real or perceived, dismiss the troubles of the people whom they disdain. Contempt thwarts relief efforts and distances people further.
When combined with the other causes of contempt, the sense of superiority feeds conflicts among families, communities, regions, and nations. The sense of superiority is very insidious.
Next section: “Feelings of Inequity”