On Being Better Than Others

Carol GaitherIn a very real sense, the ONION is “America’s Finest News Source.” There is more truth to be found in it than in most newspapers. I felt that especially strongly yesterday when I read, Woman a Leading Authority On What Shouldn’t Be in Poor People’s Grocery Carts. The article is about Carol Gaither, a woman who is very critical of how the poor are living their lives. If they would just live as she does, their lives would be as great as her’s. (Yes, I know she isn’t an actual person!)

Broadly speaking, Gaither is all of us. We tend to think we have the answers to the correct way for everyone to live. Of course, that would mean the whole world would be like us and that would be (1) very boring and (2) a total catastrophe, regardless of how wonderful anyone may be. Personally, I try to understand that the focus of my life is not the focus of others’ lives. This is perhaps a bit easier for me than most people because I’m pretty idiocycratic so society has a habit of rapping me on the head about how out of it I actually am.

It reminds me of a segment on The Colbert Report last week, “Watters’ World.” It made fun of the videos that Jesse Watters does for The Factor, where he goes around and interviews people and finds that they are ignorant of this or that political matter. It’s very much like Jay Leno’s thing, but it isn’t done for humor; it’s done for outrage. It is also highly deceptive. Obviously, the vast majority of the people, who are reasonably knowledgeable, don’t get put on the segment.

But I think it’s wrong to feel above the people who are ignorant about politics. I’m ignorant of things that they think everyone should know. The girls in the segment were Miley Cyrus fans. I know the name, but I wouldn’t recognize a picture of her. (When I went to check the spelling of her name, I saw a picture and I was surprised she was a blond.) Now, I think the things I know about are more important—who doesn’t? But that doesn’t mean that in an absolute sense it is more important to know who John Kerry is than who Katy Perry is. As it is, I suspect my impact on what Kerry does is less than the girls’ impact on what Perry does.

It seems that there are two ways that people develop as they get older. They become more certain about their world views or less certain. Carol Gaither in the Onion article is one who has become more certain. But I think such constant prattling about how people ought to live does not come from a conviction that one knows how the world ought to be run. I suspect it is all about trying to grab onto a little power in a society in which very few people have power even over basic aspects of their lives.

None of this is going to stop me from ranting about all the wrongs I see in the world. Along with my constantly lowered belief that I know what’s really going on in the world comes a greater acceptance of who I am. Regardless, this is about communication. My opinions can and do change over time. If only everyone were more like me, the world would be fine!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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