Saturday, January 9, 2010
narcissism led to racism?
[ Acknowledging the sensitivity of the topic at hand, I find it necessary to state the following to clarify any misinterpretation of the intentions of speculating on this topic: This is a thought experiment, not a justification by any means. It has been observed in the past that in discussing various habits of humanity that an understanding may be seen as a way to justify an occurrence. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact that these kinds of occurrences do exists warrants, or maybe necessitates, the investigation of the roots of their manifestation as a crucial first step towards their eradication. This theoretical offering could be brought into similar and no less important bigoted mindsets such as sexism, classism, ant-gay sentiments, etc. etc. I hope that the idea of theorizing on a cause is an attempt to bring a collective awareness closer to the understanding of a phenomenon in order to begin the process to correct it. ]
We are all narcissistic. It just depends to what extent. There is nothing altruistic in action because we find pleasure in helping others thus resulting not in a selfless act. This pleasure is also derived from a sense and attempt that we formulate an image for others to perceive. Although this is not physically narcissistic, it plays into the same intentions of appreciating your own image, whether that being physical or the image that a collected source of past actions is able to construct in the community eye.
The above mentioned condition has led to a feeling of comfort in things that are familiar. We feel threatened in the unfamiliar. Early on when one race would come in contact with another race, this was an interaction between unfamiliar parties. The lack of insight into the human condition by a collective species, coupled with the effects of evolution and survival of the fittest resulted in hostile views stemming from ignorance of the near exact, besides mere and superficial appearance, similarities and traits. There are obvious lopsided oppressive practices throughout history coming from one race towards most others. It is of the feeling that this is needless to say and that time spent on revisiting crimes against humanity on this unimaginable scale would be rehashing ideas which we are all familiar with. In the interest of posing hypothesis towards the roots of racism, I feel that to focus on the main party whose outlooks on other races has resulted in a system which secures the results of this historical avenue is able to be set aside for this brief moment to focus on cause and not blame, a blame that is hard to ignore or argue against.
During the process of human evolution, the familiarity of other living entities was perhaps the first acquired instinctual trait. The perils of surviving in the "wild" are such that strength in numbers, any number greater than one, is a comforting feeling bringing a sense of greater security than if one were to be alone. This is still felt today by many living in a "civilized" society, many are left to fear being alone. We are social animals. The recognition of beings that were of the same make up as our selves equipped us with a necessary survival instinct that if we were in trouble, we could run to the right kind of group which would provide protection for our own personal survival. And on the flip side, know which kinds of beings to help defend from predators to keep the number high enough to preserve a band or tribes chances of survival through coordination and numbers. If our instincts were not this generous, we would either run to the wrong kind of group, a group that would kill us or we would find ourselves on our own with a decreased chance of survival, going at it solo.
The proven advantages of sticking with ones own similar kind were duly noted in a survival scenario. A continued and increased migration of peoples, with growing populations, following food source migration, general curiosity, searching for new goods, etc. brought about a higher rate of interaction between different races. Geographical and climate based elements had varying demands on the different kinds of people, resulting in differing technology, diseases and utilization of natural resources giving some peoples a technological advantage to take over other cultures. (Here I would like to refer to Jared Diamonds, Guns, Germs and Steel. Diamond goes into phenomenal and clear detail on the playing out of cultural powers through out history.) Without understanding the shared capacity for ingenuity and the effects of the physical world on such ingenuity, the people's who had the outcome of living through a more harsh climate, resulting in a more exploited use of resources and ingenuity, were able to justify an unparalleled treatment of their fellow man and women. This early and super concentrated ignorance is the same flavor of ignorance that still exists fostering and permitting forms of "isms", especially racism to persist. The conquering parties automatically reverted to assuming that they were a superior model of human. The infatuation with their own image, narcissism, granted them the ability to do so. This as well as the added justification of religious audacity and greater fire power and disease.
As a side note:
Both Christians and Muslims practiced taking others into slavery. Both initiated a policy that they would not enslave anyone of the same religion. As the market for slaves grew to such an enormous degree, BOTH religious parties took exception and began to enslave their own kind. The drive for wealth and the indisputable market demand made supposedly pious men fall prey to the lust for material gain. This is an interesting historical exhibition of the power of materiality on the human moral compass.
How does this apply to today? Well, I feel that if we are to admit our own narcissistic tendencies, like beginning a treatment for drug addiction, admission is the first step towards reconciliation or reversing the effects of the affliction. The spiritual and religious teachings that we follow give us insight to the potentials of our species, harmony through compassion and openness. Racism is the ultimate form of someone being closed off to others. Scientific facts that are proving all of the races similarity and that superiority among them is an abstract, false concept. It is up to us to construct and align this collective information to resist some physiological residue from evolution and acknowledge that there is a reason for it to have arisen and that there is a greater reason to rise above it.
A volume of books could be written on this topic I feel. This was just an idea that occurred to me that would be worth exploring in as little and unresearched detail as I have offered here....