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THE SUPER IN ‘SUPERIOR’

July 23, 2013
William Faulkner

William Faulkner

“If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the ‘Ode to a Grecian Urn’ is worth any number of old ladies.”

Before I tag this quotation with the name of its author, I hope we all have a moment to think about it and the implications.

The royal bundle of joy has finally arrived and as we all know, unless we have been living under a rock somewhere, many people the world over are celebrating the arrival of the new prince to be.

For me, always the philosopher and analyzer, it begs discussion about whether or not some people are better than others. I don’t know too many other births that occurred in my lifetime that have made more waves and earned this level of attention.

The world’s reaction to the baby prince most certainly reflects something rather remarkable about this newborn, even prior to his having the opportunity to accomplish much of anything in his life so far.

Now back to our opening quote – ‘Ode to a Grecian Um’ is a poem, written by John Keats that actually was not very well received by original contemporary critics. But today it is know for its beautiful work.

The quote is one by William Faulkner. He minces no words in this quote, letting us all know that as far as Faulkner is concerned, this literary work of art is much more valuable than the lives of some common folk.

Now, here’s another quote, that expresses a somewhat similar sentiment as Faulkner’s.
“A thirst for knowledge is highly commendable, no matter what extreme pain or injury it may inflict upon others.”

Does it spark a similar feeling in you as you read it? I would think that it does, as it did in me until I learned the author was Nathan Lepold. Nathan Lepold is the Lepold in Lepold and Loeb. In 1924, (even before my time,) Lepold and Loeb confessed to murdering an innocent 14 year old boy, just for the thrill of it.

This quote indicates that Lepold believed his inherent superiority justified the horrible crime he helped commit.

As these two examples show, it is not difficult to demonstrate that many people absolutely believe that some people are indeed better than others.

In the case of Nathan Lepold, we even see to what extreme that belief can be taken. He implies some people are so superior to others, murder of the inferior ones can be justified.

I find it very interesting that when we break our thinking down into categories, we don’t have a problem with the question. For example, I don’t have a moment’s hesitation acknowledging that some people are more talented than others, or smarter than others, or athletically inclined. No hesitation at all there.

Starry Night

Starry Night

But believing that some people are just better human beings than others, that one person’s existence is more justified or warranted than that of another; that is a very different thing. It is much more difficult to answer whether some people are better than others in general than to accept that someone like Vincent Van Gogh most probably had more creativity than Babe Ruth or that George Herman Ruth had better eye-hand coordination than Van Gogh.

When we ask whether there are some people that are overall superior to other people, that is something many of us have a problem with. America’s conception is based on the Jeffersonian belief of being created equal. And while we understand not everybody is born with the same level of skills or other qualities, what follows is that despite these differences, our lives are all of equal value, equally important and significant.

While it may appear that those who contribute more significantly to society could be in a different category than those people who do not care at all about others or progress, it is not the same thing as saying that their existence is more valuable; that they have a better reason to live.

And as in the Falkner and Lepold quotes, just because you contribute something worthwhile in your life, it may not hold you above the law.

Royal Baby Courtesy of the Huffington Post

Royal Baby Courtesy of the Huffington Post

So here’s to the royal newborn baby prince. I don’t know about you, but I’m prepared to believe he will be a wonderful person; but only if he doesn’t act like a jerk!

ABOUT ME

I’m a licensed clinical social worker and have worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. I combine professional experience in the mental health field along with my love of writing to provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. I hope my down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life is easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

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