This is a difficult chapter to write because I don’t know how to convince you (if you don’t already know) that:
‘I am better than no one, and no one is better than me.’
Kim is gentle and kind. A hard worker in a helping profession. Brings out the best in the people. A wonderful spouse and an exceptional parent.
Drew has committed hideous murders. People who meet Drew feel chilled to the bone.
Charlie is filthy and continually drunk. Sleeps in dumpsters. Selfish and self-absorbed.
Alex is the founder and CEO of a successful ethical company. Earns millions, giving most of it to charity. Has nothing to hide.
Jessie is 95 years old and has severe dementia.
Some people are better parents than others, better partners, better tennis players, better workers, kinder . . . and yet, I cannot see how one person can be a better person than another.
If kind Kim makes the world a better place for others to live in, and serial killer Drew makes it worse, does that mean Kim is a better person? Some would say ‘of course’, but I can’t see it! Though I’d much rather associate with Kim! On every measure, Kim might be better than Drew, but is Kim better than Drew? I can’t see how.
The thing is, it’s not a philosophy. I am not choosing to see people as equals, and I am not choosing to refrain from judging people. I’m often judgmental. I genuinely can’t see how one person can be better than another.
Which is better: a scorpion or a puppy dog? Puppies are smarter and more pleasant to be with than scorpions, but are they better? I can’t see it. I say they’re different creatures and it’s pointless comparing the two. In the same way, human beings are different creatures from one another, and it’s pointless comparing. Yes, I want to avoid the “scorpions” but I don’t see them as inferior.
Can you see my dilemma? I have a deep, intuitive understanding that I am better than no one, and no one is better than me, but I can’t prove it. So, how can I convince you?
“Intuition: an uncanny second sense that tells people they are right whether they are or not.”
Why do I want to convince you? Because for me, understanding that ‘I am better than no one, and no one is better than me’ is liberating! As I write this chapter I realise just how important that knowledge has been in shaping my life, for the better. By not feeling inferior to anyone on the planet, I have been able to be myself. I have not felt the need to seek another person’s approval, nor have I feared their disapproval. People are smarter than I, more talented than I, kinder than I, wiser than I, better at living their life than I . . . but I can deal with all that because I don’t sense they are better than I am. No matter what my failings and non-achievements happen to be – and there are plenty of them – I cannot become despondent, because deep within me is an understanding that I am inferior to no one. That grounds me and it supports me. No matter how far I fall, I can never be lesser than anyone else. What a safety net!
Nor do I feel superior to anyone. But that makes sense, because if I considered myself better than some people I would have to conclude that there are people better than me! Then my world would begin to crumble. I would feel the need to justify my place in the world, and my insecurities would grow to become Godzilla! Then heaven help me! I might even stop living life on my terms.
No thank you!
In short, understanding that I am better than no one, and no one is better than me, is one of the very best things to happen in my life. Regardless of my countless failings, I can never feel lesser. What a relief! Further, if I believe I am on equal terms with everyone, I will always feel connected with humanity. That means I will be satisfying my deep need to belong, bolstering my resilience, and adding to my core happiness.
My tip to you is: somehow come to the understanding that you are better than no one, and no one is better than you. I don’t know how you will come to that understanding, but when you do, many of the fears you have in life will drift away.
You will also come to understand that it’s true: that we really are all in this same boat, in this stormy sea, and we really do owe each other a terrible loyalty.