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Exceptionalism • Posted: Apr 04, 2010 13:15:13Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

"Nothing off the rack for me, please. I'm exceptional."

If you've ever overheard something like that, you might have been amused. But then again, you might not have, depending upon how deeply you think.

For those of us who think, one of the most disturbing claims within rhetoric by the Far Right is that of exceptionalism. Quite literally, they claim a special relationship with God as "the chosen few" and "the saved", superior breeding based on evidence of skin color, superior citizenship by virtue of where they were born, and superiority of accomplishment in almost every field of human endeavor, primarily based on knowing of or being a neighbor to someone else who actually has accomplished something. What is so disturbing about those claims is their single-minded belief in them to the point of willingness to brandish firearms in their defense as if bloodshed would be convincing proof of their validity. Unfortunately, violence is proof of nothing except profoundly ineffectual stupidity, a truth that even most "dumb" animals understand.

What is missing in the psychology of such people that they so desperately need to believe they are either exceptional or superior in some way?

There is something missing in their psychology because if you've ever spoken to someone who truly is exceptional by virtue of actual accomplishment you would find that most such folks are actually rather ordinary except for their ability to focus exceptional effort and determination in a sustained productive direction, very often while working as part of a team. By contrast, most of us flitter away our potential for accomplishment by exhibiting only periodic episodes of focused and sustained productive effort. The pathetic souls who would brandish weapons to prove their superiority apparently have little notion of what it takes to actually accomplish something, nor do they seem to understand the difference between constructive and destructive endpoints. Most such souls seem to believe, by some perversion of thought, that destruction is in fact construction. Plus, they seem incapable of appreciating nuance, complexity, probabilities, degrees of confidence, and gradations of significance. In other words, they think in simplistic absolutes.

If one has no conception of what it actually takes to accomplish something constructive, it probably seems quite possible that magic would be the surest way to get there. Belief in an omnipotent God that has been charmed through prayer and sacrifice to act on one's behalf would help. A magic wand in the form of a gun would help. Friends who share the same fears and think with the same inadequacies and errors would lend the weight of pure numbers to any and all confrontations, for surely might makes right. And, of course, drugs and alcohol will greatly enhance all acquired exceptional magic powers, for self-delusion is the ultimate triumph.

May you always see clearly through to the reality underlying insistence that you are, or are not, exceptional.

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009