Monday, September 9, 2013

Craving Class

Some weeks ago we had a princess party for our granddaughter (Political Sphere’s child, so we'll call her Little PS 1). She made a beautiful princess. Her little girl friends came dressed as princesses too. The boys came dressed as knights. (One came as a cowboy—I think he was Woody from Toy Story, which is tangentially related to Disney princesses.) Except for the 100-degree glaring sunshine, the whole day was a delight.
I was a princess for Halloween at that same age. I remember feeling so beautiful and special. I love the idea of feeling like a princess—special, treasured. I want that for every little girl, and an equivalent sense of value for every little boy. But feeling special and treasured does not need to mean feeling more important than others.
Princess PS1 and Princess Spherical Model (me)
The main problem with wanting to be a princess is, you dream of ending up in a stratified class system—which, by definition, is below the equator of the Spherical Model.
There are movies that gloss over the point. The Princess Diaries movies take an awkward, unnoticed teenager growing up in San Francisco and turn her into a princess of a small European principality. She sees the opportunity of political position to do good for people; that’s not a bad thing. But getting that opportunity for power simply because of her bio-Dad’s genealogy seems a less that certain method for society to choose its leaders.
There’s another one, The Prince and Me, from 2004, in which a farm girl gone to college meets a Danish prince who is slumming it incognito as a foreign exchange student. They fall in love, and she moves to his European monarchy to transform into a princess.
I understand the idea of true love in a story. But the loss of “all men are created equal” is not as inconsequential as the fairytales make it seem.
So I’ve been wondering if we can identify, in ourselves, a class system craving that we ought to resist.
Here are some examples:
·        Belief that heritage isn’t just valuable to you personally, but makes you superior to those with lesser family lines: ex.: descended from the Mayflower, descended from the founding fathers, descended from the Mormon pioneers, descended from Texas original 300.
·        Belief that physical looks make you superior to those with less natural attractiveness.
·        Belief that money makes you superior to those with less—and even worse, belief that older, inherited money makes you superior to those who have more recently earned wealth.
·        Belief that educational accomplishments are not only valuable to you personally, and to society as you share what you know, but that your degrees and credentials make you superior to people without as impressive a collection of honors.
·        Belief that celebrity makes you superior to the unknown masses.
·        Belief that positions of civic responsibility or political power, elected or appointed, make you superior to regular citizens.
·        Belief that rank within an organization, such as in a corporation, church, or even a volunteer organization, makes you superior to those in lower ranks.
·        Belief that misfortune and suffering make you superior to those who have suffered less, and therefore you feel entitled to the results of other people’s work.
The common phrase is “belief that you are superior.” You can be a better runner than your competitors without being a superior human being in other areas of your life. You can be a successful entrepreneur without being a superior human being in other areas of your life. It’s not a bad thing to strive for a goal, attempt to reach it, and pass other participants along the way. That is how we get improvement, innovation, and varieties of progress in particular areas.
But there’s a difference between doing superior things and being superior people. The things we do may reveal our character, and they might identify ways we can benefit society—but they do not define the worth of our souls. Blind justice means that every citizen, in every walk of life, has equal standing before the law, by virtue of being a human being.
I have a dream—that instead of looking at ephemeral, outward, arbitrary measures, we find better ways to identify and honor good character. Let’s stop stratifying ourselves according to outward standards and strive to be true-hearted and virtuous.

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