If your outlook contains the word “supremacy,” I would humbly suggest, it’s time to rethink your philosophy. Borne of a deep insecurity—or overweening pride, which may be the same thing—the idea that one characteristic of this complexity we know of as being human makes one group better than another is misguided. No recasting of the terms makes it any better. No matter from which angle you shine the light, belief in superiority always looks ugly. As someone the world has classified as a “white male”—and often I wonder what that’s supposed to mean—I can’t understand why that categorization defines me more than any other. This came home to me once when I walked past a black supremacist gathering where the leader was none too shy about saying what his adherents should do to “the white man.” Does anyone deserve to be judged for their genetic makeup? You can’t just change your genes.
When I look at human beings my cones fire more than my rods. Black, white, or shades of brown? I’m not denying that historical wrongs—horrendous evils—have been done. Was it because of racial disposition or because of ignorance? I think there’s only one way to answer that. When our children are raised in mixed racial environments prejudice tends not to appear. Although the world seems to be reacting against globalization at the moment, sharing a classroom with those who are different lessens the desire to lob missiles in one another’s direction. Being a supremacist is an argument against your own case. It’s one of those ironies that rusts when exposed to the air. We’re different from one another, not better or worse.
Back in the medievalist days among the European sect, seven sins were identified as particularly pernicious. They were so bad as to be called deadly. One of them, it seems to me, is worse than all the others. Pride does very strange things to people. Does technological achievement make anyone better than anyone else? Sure, it may make someone a more efficient killer, but in what sense does that make them any better? Indigenous populations—and I’m not advocating that weirdly self-aggrandizing “noble savage” mentality here—get along just fine until modern technology arrives. It shows us what the other has and I do not. Another of the deadly seven is greed. It may be worse even than pride. I have to wonder if, when you get all of the deadly sins together, do they argue among themselves which is the best of the worst? All sins, perhaps, come in grayscale instead of black and white. Is a superior sin ever a good thing?