Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, I’ve had the opportunity to watch many TV series and movies, and one genre I very much enjoy is period pieces. I love to think about times past and how people lived especially in the day-to-day. Not just taking note of the big events but rather the more ordinary experiences of everyday life, in that time.
In a recently watched episode of Outlander (S01, E06, 13Sep2014), there was an exchange between a British Officer and Scottish War Chieftain of Clan MacKenzie, in 1743. In this scene, the War Chieftain is attempting to safeguard an English-woman and “guest” of his clan who has been invited to dine with British officers. From the start, the British insult and demean the Scotsman, most certainly treating him like the “second-class” human Brits believe all Scots to be. As the exchange wraps up, it goes like this:
Brit: Well, it’s been a delight meeting you, but I am afraid the venison is losing its heat.
Brit: I would ask you to join us, but as you can see, no room.
Brit: Beastly sorry.
Scot: You can keep your scraps. They’re still serving good Scottish ale in the taproom.
Scot: I’ll be downstairs.
Brit: How are we ever going to make peace with such ill-mannered people?
It’s easy to see, from this exchange, the Brit has no intention of extending hospitality to the Scot and his sarcasm is a further insult and acknowledgment of how little [value] the Brit regards the Scot. In an attempt to “save face” and not acknowledge the [emotional] pain of being unwanted, unvalued, and not belonging to the “superior” nation, the Scot states he prefers the Scottish tap room downstairs, anyway.
After the Scot leaves, the Brit boasts further his “position of superiority” with a statement about how “ill-mannered” the Scot people are and how peace is not possible with such a [lesser] people.
I find this exchange fascinating and as true in 2021 as it was 278 years ago. As I see it, humanity will never experience peace if one nation, group, or person, continues to believe they are “superior” to another. Choose your conflict over superiority:
- British — Scottish
- White — Black
- Black — Asian
- Christian — Jew
- Republican — Democrat
- West Coast — East Coast
- Maryland — Virginia
- New York City — Los Angeles
- Heterosexual — Homosexual
- Vegetarian — Carnivore
- Weight Lifter — Endurance Athlete
- Manchester United — Liverpool
- “Hard” Sciences — Humanities
- Boss — Employee
- Teacher — Student
- Parent — Child, etc.
Since the Brit believes himself to be a “superior human” then he expects the inferior Scot to “bow down” and submit to him and when he does not, the Brit believes the Scot is “ill-mannered” and unreasonable which reinforces his belief of superiority because the “low life” Scot won’t agree to his “station”. In other words, “You’ll only be considered valuable, in some regard, if you acknowledge my superiority”.
Meanwhile, the Scot, holding the inferior “status” (or, more likely, less power, army, money, and land) is kept to his “position”, without a shred of offered respect, which reinforces his position. Still, he knows he’s “as good as any Brit” yet he must reconcile that is not the view of those in power who are claiming their superiority. (It’s easy to claim superiority when you hold the power and resources.)
Another example that comes to mind, sadly, is how often police officers take this “superiority” position over citizens and if their position of authority and power is not recognized, immediately and without question, physical violence and even death too often ensues. Heck, even questioning an officer’s actions or comments can get you arrested or shot.
Sadly, no progress toward equality or peace is possible if the “people in power” continue to operate in a way that reinforces this false belief of higher value within the species. By claiming the other peoples’ inferiority (e.g., the Scots’ “ill-mannered” ways) and their superiority, equality simply is not possible. For equality and peace to exist, there is no superiority or inferiority of peoples.
At what point will humanity recognize we are all one species and no sub-group is better or worse than another?
While we each have our strengths and weakness, we are ALL homo sapiens, and there is no superior or inferior sub-group of people. When we perpetuate this myth, by assuming this position, then our species, as a whole, suffers.
“A rising tide lifts all the boats.”
If we continue to assume “we are better” and “they are worse” and we act accordingly then little will improve for humanity, division will grow, relationships will degrade further, and we’ll continue to hurt each and ourselves.
In Outlander, given the Brit assumes his superiority, the only way he will be satisfied [emotionally] and believe peace is possible is if the Scot agrees and concedes his inferiority. Since the Scot knows he is not inferior (and likely takes the position his people are actually superior to the Brits even if they do not have the power, money, land, etc.) then in order to compensate for that emotional attack (i.e., an attack on his peoples’ value as a species) he assumes their own superiority thereby perpetuating the cycle.
It’s simply a “no win” scenario for humanity, at large, when we continue to proclaim our superiority over others. And the more people believe they are superior the more destructive (often by physical force) their behaviors tend to be in order to maintain that “superior” position.
All the while, I submit, it is more likely each person’s own, individual, feelings of inferiority drive them to attach and associate with a group’s perceived superiority, if at all possible.
What if each and every person felt valued because they ARE valuable, as a human being, and all of humanity operated with this simple understanding?
What if we each took it upon ourselves to seek out, understand, recognize, and acknowledge the value each person we interact with has?
What would it take to discover another person’s gifts rather than assume their uselessness and your superiority? What if we operated from a position of “assumed value” and “positive intent”?
How might our world be different? How might you behave differently if equality truly existed within our species?
Alas, Kevin, the men – women dichotomy is still needed on your list as well among the stupidities people still subscribe to. And you could probably add a few values as well: individualist – collectivist – at least in some cultures.
@Charlotte, 100% true. It’s really the first and foremost. I thought it was on the list! Unfortunately, this list feels like it can be almost endless. We humans are constantly de-valuing others for infinite reasons. I continue to believe the primary reason is because children aren’t feeling valued and loved the way they need to be in their very early years.