Part Eleven – Contemptuous

I’ve had a lot to think about as a result of my last two posts, and for my regulars you’ll know that I tend to take pretty long breaks between posts, so three posts in roughly as many days is a pretty big deal from where I’m sitting, hopefully it’s amounting to something.

I guess I’m trying to take advantage of not only needing to write, but WANTING to write.

So, the conclusion that was reached out of my last two post, but the last one in particular was the intimate and direct link between my rage and feelings of disempowerment.

My rage is fuelled by my feelings of disempowerment.

In the cases where I felt ‘powerful’, in spite of my poor choice of actions in the end, my rage doesn’t really have anything to feed off.

To be clear, power and feeling powerful is not the same as feeling empowered.  I think it is important that I say that.  I have met people whom I would consider to be empowered, and in those cases them feeling powerful and/or projecting power wasn’t part of the equation.

I do think that the concept of power and feeling powerful ultimately does have negative connotations, which is possibly unfortunate given what its’ true and genuine meaning could be.  I don’t know what that is, just to be clear.

Ultimately, the idea of empowerment feels like a better fit for me, and while I’m not a sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows bloke, there is a certain warmth to the idea of empowerment that is appealing.  It encourages ideas and ideals of being the best you can be in any given moment, and encouraging the same in others.

It’s an idea and ideal that is worth not only exploring, but aspiring to.

Getting away from that, the subject of this post is my contemptuous attitude of others, which is highly relevant and sadly does play a large part of the relationship between my rage and my feelings of disempowerment, and consequently how I view the world.

To start with, my Mum pointed out last year that she is of the opinion that my attitude of women is contemptuous, and was as much when I was a teenager.

She was right.

In addition, my Dad has pointed out my contemptuous attitude of him during a fight that we had the other night, which was the catalyst for writing these most recent posts.

He is also right, I do hold him in contempt, and have for a while.

Sadly, it extends beyond that.  I hold most people in contempt, most of the time.

I’m trying to be less blunt about it, and express myself in a more measured and balanced way.

If I was upset and angry enough I would say that I hold ALL people in contempt, ALL of the time.

Yeah, I know right.

There are over seven billion people on our planet, and when cooler heads prevail, even I am willing to admit how utterly absurd and ridiculous that actually is.

Am I prone to the ridiculous?

Yes.

The question for me is how, did it get to this?  And looking back on my life, while I can’t pinpoint it down to a specific event, I can at least consider a time-frame.  Originally, I would have said it was during my teenage years, especially during high school.  And while that time in my life ultimately set the foundation of where I am at now, I do think that it was earlier than that.  I’m thinking possibly as early as five, but being honest I don’t actually know.  More importantly I genuinely cannot see myself as a five year old holding people in, and treating them with contempt.  It doesn’t fit.  However, I think that it is reasonable to consider that the seeds for my future contemptuous attitude were sown there.

To paint the scene as well as I can, as a child I was gifted and highly intelligent, but on the flip-side I was highly strung.  For me, a good way to look at this is that being intelligent but highly strung DOES NOT go together, ever.  To try and back that up, it is like trying to balance a set of scales that are already unbalanced, they haven’t been calibrated properly.

In some ways my nature is a dichotomy of the rational and the irrational, the thoughtful and the thoughtless, the reasonable and unreasonable.

I have wondered on many occasions about that duality within myself, and in some ways that does put me behind the eight-ball.  Dealing with duality presents unique challenges that most people won’t understand.

I think that it is safe to say that any advantages that being intelligent and gifted offers, are instantly cancelled out by my being highly strung and not being able to process my emotions.

For the most part the highly strung part of my nature does win out over the intelligent part.  I guess that is where the scales are unbalanced.  And in many cases, when I am feeling wound up and frustrated the intelligent part of my nature gets dragged in by it and tries to rationalise the irrationality of the situation, and consequently just stokes the fire.

On that point, it’s why I can’t stand irrational people.  I can make irrationality in-house, I don’t need to import it!

Getting back to my contempt, my current theory is that my being intelligent was not valued, appreciated, or respected.  My feeling is that it was something that was in some ways bragged about by my parents and shown off.

Being blunt our society does not truly value or appreciate intelligence.  That is my firm opinion, and unlikely to change any time soon.

The rest of it stems from not being engaged on an intellectual level when I got frustrated.  I’m trying to not judge the important people in my life during early childhood, but it is hard not to.  The simple reality is that when I lost my temper I had morality enforced upon me, but people tended to engage my anger, instead of trying to get me to calm down and get back to thinking rationally.  Yes, what I did was wrong, but if I’m not going to be listened to and heard, then frankly it’s about you, and not about resolution.

Some would argue that I would just a child and I should have known better, but also known my place.  This is such a fallacy.  It’s an absolute joke, and is where I do believe that my being intelligent was ultimately not given some amount of value and respect.

If I was supposed to rise above the mundane and mediocre, stop holding me back!

In this case, it’s where the seeds were sown, people couldn’t reconcile my being intelligent with being highly strung.  While I do need to try and let that go, it doesn’t change the fact that it was a poor situation, that I was required to take full responsibility for.

It’s not my fault that people could not reconcile my being intelligent with being highly strung.  If I am required to take responsibility for my thoughts, feelings, and actions, then so are you.

Your logic, and your rules, not mine.

I did not need moral standards imposed and enforced upon me.  What I need is an opportunity to see that in spite of my disagreement with moral standards and their application that maybe it’s the best way forward given that is what most people are trying to live to.  I am willing to accept that there are rules and expectations, but in response to that I ask this.

If these values are so important, where is the value in living by them, especially given that too many people don’t?

It is at this point I would like to mention Nietzsche.  To be clear, I haven’t read much of his work, more importantly I don’t enjoy reading philosophy, I prefer to think philosophically for myself.  If I wanted to read something that goes round and round in circles, and explore concepts to death, I can do that for myself.  This blog proves that.

The thing about Nietzsche that stands out for me is the concept of the superior man.  I’m going to draw this excerpt from Encyclopaedia Britannica;

“Superman, German Übermensch, in philosophy, the superior man, who justifies the existence of the human race. “Superman” is a term significantly used by Friedrich Nietzsche, particularly in Also sprach Zarathustra (1883–85), although it had been employed by J.W. von Goethe and others. This superior man would not be a product of long evolution; rather, he would emerge when any man with superior potential completely masters himself and strikes off conventional Christian “herd morality” to create his own values, which are completely rooted in life on this earth. Nietzsche was not forecasting the brutal superman of the German Nazis, for his goal was a “Caesar with Christ’s soul.” George Bernard Shaw popularized the term “superman” in his play Man and Superman (1903).”

Don’t get me wrong, the part about the superior man justifying the existence of the human race does not sit well with me, our society does not need messiahs or divine leaders.  What our society does need however is to truly give people the opportunity to best they can be and find mastery of self, not what society decides that a persons’ best is or isn’t or what mastery of self entails.

The section I’m particularly interested in is this.  I’m doing my best to not take it out of context, but I do feel that it can stand up under its’ own weight.

“This superior man would not be a product of long evolution; rather, he would emerge when any man with superior potential completely masters himself and strikes off conventional Christian “herd morality” to create his own values, which are completely rooted in life on this earth.”

For me it is about rising up, achieving your potential and mastering yourself, in a way that isn’t at the expense of others, to the benefit of mankind as a whole.

It is about breaking the shackles of herd mentality and herd morality, because morality is nothing more than a means of control of the masses.  And yet, if people were truly good and given the opportunity to be truly good, then there is no need for morality, at the very least, not in its’ current form, or the way it does get enforced.

The concept of morality is a means of control, which is enforced, and in turn violates the reason it was created in the first place.  The concept of morality is self-defeating by its’ very nature.

I know that it might be a bit of a stretch but I could be on to something here.  Some would argue what are we supposed to replace morals with if we get rid of them?  It’s a reasonable assumption that if I make the assertion that the concept of morality is self-defeating by its’ very nature, that I would be wanting to be rid of them entirely.

The thing is that I’m not.  I don’t question the need for some form of moral code, but I do see the concept of morality, and the premise that it presents, to be overused and misused.  I personally see the role that morals and morality to be more of a guide and mentor, instead of judge, jury, and executioner.  And, if we accept; myself included; that human nature is essentially good, wouldn’t we want to encourage and foster that goodness and be guided towards it, instead of having it enforced under threat of punishment?  There is nothing wrong with people needing guidance, or being taught about more appropriate courses of action and behaviour.

Tying this back into myself and when the seeds of my contempt were sown back when I was a child, I needed guidance and a mentor.  I know that the concept of a mentor and protégé is for the most part out-dated, but that is what I needed.  It is unfortunate that I ultimately didn’t get that.

I do need to make peace with this.

I’m not sure if I can.

Moving back to the concept of the superior man, I do need to modernise it, to make it more accessible.  While I am reasonably confident that I understand the point being made and the spirit in which it was written, there are no guarantees.

“The superior person would not be the product of long evolution; rather, they would emerge when a person of superior potential completely masters themselves and casts off the shackles of conventional and conservative ‘herd morality’, to establish their own values, to the benefit of all life on this earth.”

For me, modernising Nietzsches’ original premise does help clarify what I believe he was setting out to achieve, and make it more accessible.  Yes, modernising the original premise does ultimately become about my opinion on the thoughts of Nietzsche.  I get that, I really do.  I have endeavoured to be as balanced as I can, and take it in good faith.  The result is what you see above.

Ultimately, I do believe that the superior person is not a messiah, or a divine leader.  They would be someone whom exhibits mastery of self, and as a result rises above the petty concerns of the ‘herd’ to establish their own values; which take into account all life on this earth; which is to the benefit of everyone and every living thing on this planet.

I’ll admit that I am starting to go around in circles, which I don’t want.  Have I potentially bitten off more than I can chew, yes.  I just hope that all of this doesn’t get lost in translation.

The point I have been trying to make, is that in regards to the superior person, the ‘morals’ or the ‘moral code’ is built in, but what sets them apart is that the ‘morality’ isn’t something that they enforce upon themselves or others, it is something that is part of the decision making process, which factors in all life on this planet.

They are a guide and mentor, that is all.

I need to drop this point here, because I don’t want to muddy the waters any more than I already have.

Moving away from that, I do have examples of people that for me come to mind when I think about superior people.  I will admit that unfortunately the list has mainly men on it, which I am disappointed about, because I want this list to be inclusive.  In addition there are people that come to mind, because of what they’ve achieved, I just don’t know their names, which is frustrating, but is what it is.

People whom come to mind in regards to superior people; people whom for me have risen up and have shown, or are showing us, a better way; includes Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Tony Blair, Elon Musk, Mother Theresa, Richard Branson, Helen Clark, Florence Nightingale, Kofi Annan, Bernie Sanders, Pope Francis, and Pope John Paul II.

There are others, which includes the Nobel Prize winner whom introduced microloans in India – helping break the cycle of poverty, and the young woman whom advocates the rights of girls to education in Muslim countries; it sucks that I don’t know their names.

Ultimately the people on this list have reached the top of their respective fields, in some cases overcoming great adversity at great personal cost, to show us all a potentially better way.  They want better for ALL of us.  And while at times they have been outspoken, they want to inspire people and give people something to aspire to, but not for self-gratification, just to make things better for all of us.  They are not moralistic people, they do not lord over us, they encourage the pursuit of better and improvement.

For me that is the hallmark of the superior person – the seek to make things better for EVERYONE.  With that in mind, I will make one final adjustment to Nietzsches’ original argument.

“The superior person would not be the product of long evolution; rather, they would emerge when a person overcomes their adversity, completely mastering themselves, and achieving their potential, to cast off the shackles of conventional and conservative ‘herd morality’, establishing their own values for the benefit of all life on this earth.”

I think I’ve done it, but even if I haven’t, I hope there is enough truth in it that someone will find useful at some point.

I guess that in reaching my final interpretation of Nietzsches’ argument, ANYONE can be a superior person, I guess that is the beauty of it.  It is my sincerest hope that message does come across, and it’s not lost in translation.

Not everyone speaks “Aaron”, I do view the world differently than most, and communicate differently than most.

I just hope I’ve done enough.

So, I guess that means we’ve come full circle. With consideration to what I have been saying if my potential is so wonderful, such an important and worthwhile thing to pursue and achieve, then why was it imposed and enforced?  Why was it trivialised and not truly appreciated by others?  It is ultimately, all water under the bridge.  While I do need to consider being a better version of myself – my own version of a superior person – I want it to be my journey and my own personal achievement, first and foremost.  Others will benefit both directly and indirectly if I do finally get there, and I guess that it where my contempt does stem from.

My potential has always felt like it is about others, and them benefitting first, with myself benefitting second, maybe.

To sum up, I want to quote Hemmingway;

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

That is what I want for myself, and something I want for others.  You could say that is a truth for me, right now.

I hope that as the reader you find your own truth in what I have written.

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