Perhaps it is the narcissistic sentiment of my generation — or it is just the natural effect had on those born into countries of the first-world — that causes individuals to assume they are the exception. This is something I found to be quite the opposite early on in life.
“I lost the conviction that lights would always turn green for me,” said Joan Didion in her ever-true essay “On Self-Respect.”
In other words, I am not special — and neither are you.
I mean not to degrade any individual. To your friends, your family and yourself, you may appear to be the center of the universe. You wake each morning to prove your importance, and retire each night to repeat your actions the next day. You think you are immune to liability — exempt from the rules that others so cautiously follow. You are wrong.
It’s this irrational, egocentric reasoning that causes insensitive episodes — why consent is ignored, and malignance so prevalent. Take Harvey Weinstein, for example: a megalomaniac of the film industry, a man who was once so mesmerizing by his authority that he used it crookedly. If, years ago, Weinstein had taken a moment to jump from his high horse — had he deflated his ego — he would not have been the catalyst of the #MeToo movement today. But, like many before him, Weinstein saw only a green light.
If the 24/7 news feed has taught us anything, it’s that many immoral happenings can be prevented by acknowledging the red light — that everyone, no matter their race, religion or economic status, has felt the pangs of rejection and disappointment. We are born equal, each with skin and bone; superiority is thus an illusion.
In her essay “On Self-Respect,” Didion reminisced on her failure to get elected to Phi Beta Kappa in college; she was upset that her poor grades had led to this disappointment.
I too have had similar experiences, one of which was quite paltry; when I was eleven years old and $1.10 short for an order of Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate, I’d anticipated that the cup would be given to me out of pity. Instead, the worker slid the order farther from my hands and stated, “I need the cash. Otherwise, it’s not yours.” It was then I learned that I was not the world’s anomaly.
To mitigate jealousy, spite and the notion of dominance, we must open our eyes — take a needle to our egos. This world is for everyone, and if I can’t change its path of revolution, neither can you.