Looking Down on Others – A Cause of Human Misery

by TessaSchlesinger

by Tessa Schlesinger. It seems that everybody has someone they look up to and someone they look down on. In some ways, it is the start of all human misery. Here’s why

Many things hurt one’s feelings in life, but the one that is the most prevalent is the attitude of disregard and disrespect that those who look down on us have for us. Some meet this blatant superiority of those above us in the pecking order with amusement and know that nothing could be further from the truth. Most, however, feel angry about It on the one hand, but in another way, they do feel inferior, and they do accept that others are superior. So are some people more superior than others? Or as George Orwell put it, “Some are more equal than others.”

The Birth Lottery

Born into wealth, born into poverty

Much of whether one is looked up to or down upon is the result of one’s birth. If one is born into a wealthy, educated family, one will often have private schooling and be conditioned from early on as to how inferior everybody below one is, and how superior one is. If one is born in the middle of the Congo, one is likely to know that one is constantly under threat of death because one was born into the wrong tribe and therefore one is inferior and that is punishable by death.

Nobody, rich or poor, living in an educated part of the world or in an Amazon jungle, can take credit for the circumstances they were born into. So that does not make them superior and it does not make them inferior.

The DNA Lottery

What our genes give us

Some people are born beautiful and some people aren’t. Some people are born with six buckets of talent and others are born merely competent. Still others are born with nothing much to show and they struggle for their entire lives. Still others are born clever and others are born not so clever. Some are born with superb health and others are born in sickness. As those who are born with the things admired in this world – beauty, intelligence, talent, etc., didn’t do anything to earn any of this, they can in no way be considered superior and, most certainly, should not consider themselves superior.

Conditioning by our peer group

Parental conditioning

When one grows up in a system where one is taught that one is inferior to this lot of people and superior to that lot of people, one believes it. It’s arrives at so young an age that few question it until much later in life, if ever. They may look down upon gays, liberals, Republicans, poor people, single people, high school drop outs, mere graduates (as opposed to those with doctorates), or simply because one wasn’t born into great wealth or royalty. 

Discomfort with Difference

Uncomfortable with Diversity

If one has been taught one’s entire life that there is a right way of doing something and others don’t do it and don’t seem to worry about it, it can cause aggravation. Why? Because it means that they are permitted to get away with something that is ‘wrong.’ Teaching people that there are many ways of doing something and that there is no such thing as right and wrong might work for some, but most people can recognize that while it might apply to something minor like the color dress one is wearing, it most certainly doesn’t apply to cheating at cards. And then there are the grey areas. In some cultures, people will speak very loudly disrupting the enjoyment of those nearby while in other cultures it is considered uncouth and ill mannered not to speak as softly as possible.

Difference often causes conflict, and, often, the more different people are, the higher the degree of conflict there is. So you have the strange condition where two different groups of people will each look down on the other on the basis that only they have the truth. An example would be Christians and Muslims. 

Compensating for Feelings of Inferiority

Superiority complex is the result of Inferiority complex

When some people feel inadequate, they compensate for it by belittling others. They have an intense need to constantly point out how inferior others are to themselves. So racism, for instance, is a combination of the discomfort with difference, the social conditioning, and the compensating for one’s own feelings of inferiority. Alain de Botton, in one of his TED videos, points out that the guy who drives a fancy sports car may well be compensating for those inferior feelings.

Difference between preferences and snobbery

Are Some Superior Because They’re Beautiful, Talented, and Wealthy?

Reasons why some are superior

Some people are more beautiful than others. Some people are more talented than others. Some people are more intelligent than others, and some people are richer than god. Does it make them superior or better than others? No. Firstly, a lot of what they’re feeling superior about came to them through the Birth lottery and the DNA lottery. They did nothing to deserve it or earn it.

They are not superior in any way; they have just been conditioned to believe that they are superior.

Are Some Superior Because They Follow a Particular Religion

Religious superiority

Of course, they think they are. Every single follower of a religion thinks that their religion is ‘the right one, and all the adherents of these religions believe that they are superior to those who don’t follow their religion. After all, they are following God, and God plays favorites. Does this mean that these people are superior? No, of course not. Convincing them otherwise is not likely.

Various Schools of Snobbery

Intellectual Snobbery, Class Snobbery

Snobbery is based on the assumption that one’s particular achievements or social class makes one superior to someone else or another class. A snob is not someone who holds a high standard so much as someone who regards those standards as making one better than another. People can hold high standards and even teach those standards as good to attain (and in some cases they are). However, believing oneself to be superior because one holds those standards is a bit of fuzzy logic.

Drawing line between self respect & superiority complex!

Give to others every right you claim for yourself!

Good and Evil

One man’s meat is another man’s poison. So what may well be regarded as evil in one group may not be regarded as evil by another group. This does not mean that there’s no such thing as good or evil. It simply means that some people don’t understand how to define what makes something good and what makes something evil. Other people feel perfectly sure that they know exactly what good and evil is, and that they have a right to dictate to others because of it. In fact, they regard those who don’t follow their ‘good’ path as inferior…

How are we all equal?

In many respects, we are not equal. We are not equal in ability because some have greater ability than others. We are not equal in poverty and wealth or beauty and many other things. But there is a way in which no one is superior or inferior than any other.

When did looking down on others become the national pastime?

While I am arguably too young to delve deep into the archives of television history (I am 29), I struggle to recall a time when so much of the weekly schedule was filled with programmes designed to allow us, the public, to look down with disdain on other, more marginal groups; and usually under a pseudo-progressive guise of empathising with those on the receiving end of our spiteful laughter.

Real Equality

We are all human and there is a life force that connects us. In the same way that the liver is no more superior than the heart, and the right leg is no more superior to the left leg because the entire body is one entity, so the entire human race is born of one life force – a large spirit if you will. I do not mean anything religious over here – just a rather obvious observation. We are alive and that life force infiltrates all life forms. It is the life form that is superior to us; we are merely manifestations of that life force. None of us are either inferior or superior to another.

Treating Others with Reverence

It is for this reason that it’s important to treat everybody exactly the same and to ensure that one does not hold oneself better than anyone else. When we do, sooner or later, resentments set in, because right down at the core of deep inner selves, we know it is not the truth. We are all born with the same life spirit, and if we have a little more than others, then it is our duty to share with them, not to consider ourselves superior.


Updated: 09/12/2014, TessaSchlesinger
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


TessaSchlesinger on 05/23/2013

Yup. The life within us is precious...

katiem2 on 05/23/2013

Oh this makes so much sense of what terrible things some say about others.

BrendaReeves on 05/21/2013

Tess, we certainly do think alike. My best friend and I have this discussion all the time. She always brings up the question of why the Jews have been treated so badly throughout history. I tell her it's because everyone wants someone to stomp on in order to feel superior. This is also evident in the inability of the Mexican American and African American groups to get along. The only way out of this is by making a conscientious effort as an individual to behave otherwise. I always enjoy reading your articles.

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