Social Question

EtherRoom's avatar

Is it wrong to think you are better than some people?

Asked by EtherRoom (381 points ) April 25th, 2011

Is it wrong to think you are better than some people? For example, someone lies,cheats,steals, treats other people like shit, who has no morals, and is ignorant – would you think you are “better” than them, or are we all the same? I already know some people on here are gonna say we’re all equal no matter the actions. But, when you come across people who are so fucked up, is it wrong to think that you are above them? Not necessarily above, but just more decent, intelligent, and level headed?

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72 Answers

stardust's avatar

I don’t believe any of us are better than others. I do think some of us have had more opportunities, have been luckier than others etc. Most of the time, people who behave in destructive ways (to themselves and others) have had some experience in their lives that has led to these behaviours. It is an area filled with grey matter imo.
Having said that, I do believe when we reach adulthood, choice plays a large role in our lives. As the saying goes, we cannot change the wind, but we can adjust our sails to reach our destination. We all reach a certain point in our lives where we must take responsibility for our lives. Some people simply don’t do this.
While I don’t see myself as better than those people, I choose to spend my time with people who are more like-minded.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

“The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.” Albert Einstein

To me, this applies because if the individual gives lies, cheating, stealing and bad attitude it reduces his/her worth to society in general or as a friend in particular. I do not think it makes them worthless, but I do think it makes them worth less of my time and attention.

EtherRoom's avatar

@stardust – What about someone who has the same opportunities and luck as you, but becomes a horrible, selfish, mean, cruel, person? A person who would abuse, hurt another person, and not care about doing so? Do you think they are the “same” as you ?

EtherRoom's avatar

@optimisticpessimist – Of course I wasn’t saying worthless. I just meant if you know someone who is really a bad person, would you think you both are equal.

starsofeight's avatar

Good is always better than bad. If you value what is good and decent, you have already taken a stand against evil, and all of evil’s flunkies.

EtherRoom's avatar

I’m not asking this question in a narcissistic way, just wanted to get opinions. If you meet someone like a drug lord who does not care if he murders anyone—would you think you have more quality or morals than him, or would you just think “Oh he’s crazy”?

EtherRoom's avatar

@starsofeight – aww I like that answer.

gmander's avatar

no, I am better than everyone else.

EtherRoom's avatar

I’m not really talking about people down on their luck either – I’m talking about people who treat others like shit, people who don’t care who they hurt, murderes, rapists,etc. Do you feel sorry for them or just think they’re crazy? Would you say you are better than them ? Would you say you are “better” than people who have no morals or values—or would you just think It’s not good to judge people ?

EtherRoom's avatar

“I’m better than you” – not in a narcissistic way, just I have more self worth? I don’t know how to word this. Just curious about human interaction with people who are perceivd or known to be shitty human beings.

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t think it’s wrong; it’s almost expected with the wide range of personalities and mental states of so many people. Although we can’t control how our brain forms while in the embryo, and we can’t control how we’re raised.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
optimisticpessimist's avatar

@EtherRoom I guess I was not clear. I think someone who lies, cheats, steals, kills, etc. is not equal to someone who does not. I also like @starsofeight‘s answer. I also think there are degrees of value; someone who lies only about little things is worth more than someone who kills indiscriminately. I discount young children in this answer as many are raised to believe lying or stealing is okay, but they have a chance to learn otherwise when they get older. I do not, in passing treat people differently, but I would probably not be friends with anyone who I know is consciously choosing to do negative actions, which does place a certain value upon that individual.

I do not feel sorry for those who make a conscious choice and choose badly. However, if a mental illness is involved, I would have to question how conscious the choice was.

stardust's avatar

@EtherRoom Usually, people do not behave in this way unless there are underlying issues in their lives that have yet to be worked through. I am not justifying in any way such behaviour. I simply would choose not to spend any time with people who behave in such a destructive manner.
To answer your other questions, I do not feel sorry for rapists, murderers, etc. I think some of the traits you’re describing could be attributed to sociopathic behaviour, which is another thing altogether. Again, I spend time with people who seem to be on the same page as me.

dabbler's avatar

Nope, that’s not wrong. “Better” implies some measurement and a scale of rating/ranking. As long as it’s clear what you’re measuring “Better” is one of the reasonable conclusions. Am I better at the pole vault – in my case nope. Am I better at keeping some aspects of the social contract with my fellows – in some cases certainly. Am I better at being compassionate, sometimes. Am I a better soul – there’s where we’re created equal.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Probably more productive not to think of them at all.

You at it this way…

Let’s say for example you don’t like shi

feces.
You pick it up and carry it around…all the while telling people how much you despise

feces.
And in the process, you expose everyone you come into contact with to

feces.
An alert persom might ask:

“If you despise it so much, why do you carry it with you?

So the first thing I think is…

…you may very well be “better” than some people
(no argument there)

but you surrender your consciousness to these people
by unnecessarily carrying them on your mind.

You’re better.
Now what?

(No disrespect intended.)

dabbler's avatar

@SABOTEUR insightful ! I like the intentional aspect of the point of view, like that old tune “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative”.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Thank you, @dabbler.
(We teach what we most need to learn.)

Cruiser's avatar

Aside from all having the same basic human rights, people are not the same and very different and on many levels. That is the good, the bad and the ugly about humans and human behavior. I don’t waste time worrying about clueless, self destructive morons.

blueiiznh's avatar

I have one judge and do not even think about judging myself versus others.

To me it’s not about being better, but being different.

Blondesjon's avatar

Nope.

It’s only wrong if you don’t understand that there are plenty of folks that are better than you as well.

Blackberry's avatar

@Blondesjon A friend and I were actually discussing how we’re plebians in the eyes of many people lol. We were reading about the accomplishments of James Franco and realized we were pretty much losers lol.

Pandora's avatar

No. We do it all the time. How many people have ever looked at Jerry Springer and thought, “Wow, I’m way better than those people”!
Especially when he has people that slept with their daughters, husband or a husband that slept with sisters, or a dad that slept with his son’s wife, or women who go on the show to fight with their friend over there boyfriend and speak of all the nasty things they do publicly.
If I didn’t think myself better than people like that or murders or child abuser than I would be suffering from really low self esteem or I am probably just as bad.
Not saying I use these kind of people as esteem boosters. But I certainly am not going to view that behavior as being equal to me in any way shape or form.

klutzaroo's avatar

Some of us DO better than other people. Change your sentence to that and it makes perfect sense. :)

SABOTEUR's avatar

@klutzaroo Astute observation…gotta file that away for future reference.

gm_pansa1's avatar

No, it’s not wrong.

cloudvertigo's avatar

Marcus Aurelius said: Men have come into this world for the sake of one another. Either instruct them, then, or bear with them.

Ignorance or simply not knowing seems to be the main problem.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@cloudvertigo (Damn…let me get my notebook…!)

klutzaroo's avatar

@SABOTEUR Why, thank you. Amazing what “wasting” 2 years of your life in grad school will lead you to come up with! ;)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I see two issues here: one is how subjective it is to think that someone is less decent than you…perhaps you intend more evil onto people but are just more cowardly to see it through?...two is whether or not it matters that this is ‘wrong’ to thing…I don’t think this is a right or wrong issue..it’s just kind of pointless to think you’re better than others because where does it get you?

Corey_D's avatar

You can certainly be better than someone in the sense of being morally a good person and them being a bad person. Though I don’t really see the need to compare myself to others so much. There is nothing wrong with identifying that difference, but I think it is better to just try to be a good person without comparing yourself to anyone else.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
MilkyWay's avatar

No, it’s not wrong but you shouldn’t get cocky about it. As @Blondesjon said, there are many other folks out there who are better than you.

Coloma's avatar

None of us are ‘better’ than anyone else on an intrinsic level, we may be better than the behaviorr, but not better than the person on the deepest levels.

I like the saying that ” If YOU had that persons background, ( and this is KEY ) their level of consciousness you would be the exact same way.”

It’s all about consciousness, self awareness and ones desire to grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Not everyone will ‘wake up’ and those that are fully awake and present will feel no pull to associate with the unconscious, but…they also understand it is not about being better than.

cloudvertigo's avatar

@SABOTEUR Then, as in your FECES! argument, it does seem that something one is already doing or does to some degree if what brings a problem to bear.

yeah, Meditations is a holy book. Marcus Aurelius redefines Emperor. . . kind of how “republican” is someone whose aim is contributing to a republic for common good of the entire republic, box of bananas aside.

cookieman's avatar

You can be better skilled at something than someone else.

Your actions, either through intent or circumstance, can have better results than someone else.

But overall, I don’t think it’s proper to assume youre generally a better person than someone else.

People (and their actions) are far too complex for such a broad statement.

gmander's avatar

Yes. No matter how many say no. Yet they say it.! so many false words! Your are damned by the Lord!

SABOTEUR's avatar

Such knowledge comin’ out of the woodwork…and to think I was about to skip this question…!

Coloma's avatar

Think about this as well. We love to judge the worst elements of humanity, the hardcore criminals, and other deviate behaviors, however….these make up a relatively small portion of the worlds ‘suffering.’ Some of the WORST ‘offenders’ are everyday people, the neglectful or emotionally abusive parent, the self centered workaholic husband, the back stabbing co-worker, the competitive soccer mom. The list goes on.

Trust me, the average non- criminal person can perpetrate plenty of suffering for themselves and others with wide spread effects.

We tend to focus on the small segment of humanity that perpetrates big trouble, but really, there’s plenty of ‘less than’ stellar behavior happening every minute of every day by the regular Joe.

laineybug's avatar

You can be better than one’s actions, but not better than the person themselves. You have no idea what they’ve been through in the past and no idea what they’re thinking in the present.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@gmander “The Lord” has nothing to do with it…you are continually “damned” by consequences that don’t satisfy your (“your” used figuratively) limited perspective of how you think things should be.

ucme's avatar

I shall quote a one eyed beggar from Rome as he gazed upon the decadent affluent citizens all about him. “You are all equal in my eye” he said, with an irony that really was rather touching.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@Coloma Preach sister!

Coloma's avatar

@SABOTEUR

Haha..well…just food for thought when we want to mount our moral high horse.
It’s true. The most suffering happens in small but insidious ways.

roundsquare's avatar

Its generally difficult to know enough about a person to come to a conclusion that you are, in total, better than them. You can say that you are better than them in one respect or another (e.g., as people have said, you do more good than them) but to see that overall you are better is difficult. Even murderers, rapists, etc… probably have something in their background which changes the way they act.

But all that is just cautionary. In the end, what would make it wrong? At least to me, things aren’t wrong unless they harm someone. For some people, thinking they are better than someone gives them the confidence to keep going whatever it is they are doing. So if going to a soup kitchen makes you feel superior and keep you going to the soup kitchen… well, thats not so bad.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Can’t help but be mindful that some of history’s most heinous acts were the result of people who considered themselves better than someone else.

incendiary_dan's avatar

You’re probably fine as long as you’re not a self-righteous dick about it.

roundsquare's avatar

@SABOTEUR Good call. And yet, I wonder if Ghandi really didn’t think he was better than at least some other people.

bkcunningham's avatar

Are you better than people who pass laws, withhold monies from people or appropriate monies because of their sexual preference, how they look, their belief systems? Are you better than people who refuse to treat animals in a manner you consider humane? Are you better than people who refuse to treat the earth in a manner you consider of good stewardship?

SABOTEUR's avatar

@roundsquare Ghandi probably shared a perspective similar to @incendiary_dan.

roundsquare's avatar

@SABOTEUR He probably agreed that being a self-righteous dick is bad, but some might argue that he took it a step further.

I honestly do think that great people need to have something of a god complex (though not all the way to thinking they are god) just to have the courage to do what they do.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@roundsquare God complex?

Perhaps.

I would prefer to think that they obtained a level of consciousness in which they could see things no other way. In effect, “great people”, through their unique level of awareness, become “obligated” to do what they do.

everephebe's avatar

Better at what though? I don’t think it’s wrong to belief your better at something than someone else if you are. It is dangerous not to have a pilot flying the plane right? Pilots are better than non-pilots at flying planes.

A better human being however?
Yes, probably… There are better human beings than me, so why not some that I am better than? As long as I don’t lord it over them.

Brian1946's avatar

I don’t think it’s inherently wrong to think that.

I generally think that I’m better than someone who lies, cheats, or steals more than I do. I’d say that I’m better than those that mistreat others.

I also realize that there are a lot of people better than I am.

However, I don’t agree with that thought if it’s based on something that the other person has no control over, such as their height, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

I don’t agree with it if the comparison is being made with a basically decent person who one feels hasn’t “accomplished” as much as they have.

sakura's avatar

Of course we are all better than other people both in the way we live and the way we look. I percieve that my husband is better looking than a lot of the other men I see, otherwise I wouldn’t have chosen him as my husband, and I would hope that I am better looking than other women out there otherwise my hubby wouldn’t prefer me!
(of course I love his personality too and him mine but looks definatly have some bearing to attractiveness)

I know I am not some glamourous babe and there are plenty out there that are more attractive than me and probably more kind hearted than me.

I do feel that each of us truly do feel better than others in lots of different ways, but don’t like to admit it to others as we are then seen as conceited and arrogant…

We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have those feelings as they are what give us the need to survive and multiply, there has to be an element of I am better than others…flirting wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t!! You have to believe you are the best option in the room to successfully flirt?!

As for being better than those who lie, cheat, steal etc… it depends on the reasons why…would you steal, lie, cheat to survive?
I would say that everyone at some point in their lives have done one of the above to some extent and maybe worse to make our lives better…so I guess we are all as bad as each other?

Pandora's avatar

@Coloma If we went on that premise than wouldn’t it mean that we shouldn’t judge people and send them to jail. After all. We have no idea how their life got them there. When someone is holding a gun to someones head and threatening to kill them, the cops will make a judgement call and decide his life is less valuable because he is a threat to someone else. For all we know the person who has the gun pointed to their head may be really a worthless piece of scum but outwardly behavior at that moment shows who is a higher risk. We all judge every minute we look at someone. We make assumptions simply by what we see. Not saying its right but its a fact that will never change.

peridot's avatar

@Coloma and @Pandora—GAs all round.

That which is considered “evil” is often insidious, and it’s done on the down-low consistently, every day by “regular” people. Violent actions beget violent reactions, even if it’s merely a strong feeling… so “regular” people fly below the radar and get away with more.

And, no matter how much we try to evolve and take in all factors, we will also continue to judge to some degree by appearances, or how a situation makes us feel.

blueberry_kid's avatar

Of course it is. You can just feel powerful and have alot of confidence. You can also feel like you are superior to others also. If you have a good self confidence then it all depends. But you can also be too arrogant and be selfish and think that everyone is below you. So its yes and no. Yes because your self confidence can be higher than thought of, and you can just be a really good person too, and think of yourself above all others. But sometimes thats not a good thing, it can get pretty rude, especially if you flaunt it. No because then you just turn out to be arrogant and a jerk. You would never want to present yourself that way. Because some people are just big self centered stupid jerks. Others can just have a good, high self confidence.

YARNLADY's avatar

I think I am better at refraining from acts that are not in my best interest, so yes.

AmWiser's avatar

After all is said and done, what does it matter if a person thinks they are better than someone else. What does it get them other than self satisfaction.

Blondesjon's avatar

@YARNLADY . . . i so want to argue that point with you but i would only be reinforcing it’s truth in your mind. brilliantly played.

ddude1116's avatar

I think it’s alright that you’re better at some things than others, but overall, not really. I believe all things are Balanced like that…

roundsquare's avatar

@SABOTEUR What you are talking about is certainly necessary, but I don’t think its sufficient. There will always be times when what they believe is challenged very seriously by a huge number of people. The ability to push through that requires a level of arrogance that is more than mere confidence.

Of course, lots of people have this level of arrogance so it, alone, is also not sufficient. I do think that the necessary arrogance is often in one’s ability to adapt, take in information, etc…

I used “god complex” a bit tongue in cheek but I do want to be clear that the level of arrogance I’m talking about is very high.

AmWiser's avatar

Did @koanhead fall asleep at the effin computer??.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@roundsquare Perhaps it’s a pushing through combined with a perspective of “forgive them Father for they know not what they do”, which to us certainly appears like arrogance.

Parents aren’t being arrogant when trying to show guidance to their children. Children often think parents are old and don’t know what their talking, yet parents persist because they understand children don’t know any better.

People with limited perspectives see things in “black and white”, right and wrong, my way or no way. Speaking from personal experience, I don’t know how many times I knew I was absolutely right to discover later I was absolutely wrong.

Things aren’t always what they appear. It would take the ability to grasp all perspectives before a person comes to realize the right and wrong, better and worse, good and bad are merely humanities tools to maintain order.

As it should be. But if the circle we all stand in represents Truth, yet each of us look in a different direction, we’ll all have different perspectives.

But we’re still looking at the same thing…it’s ALL Truth.

So everyone is right from their unique perspectiv; but to maintain harmony we must play the game of good and evil.

All this threatens to veer off into a meriad of anger, confusion, argument and unproductive nonsense. About the best thing one could do is live your Truth the best you can…or as The Serenity Prayer says:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

SABOTEUR's avatar

*Please forgive the typos and misspelling. Posting from iPod Touch ain’t easy. Also…what I say is not gospel…just an old man’s limited perspective…and what do I know anyway?

roundsquare's avatar

@SABOTEUR We might actually agree more than our posts seems to indicate… (though maybe not).

You’ve invoked the phrase: “forgive them Father for they know not what they do” which is a great way to get at what we are talking about. But the problem with invoking is that it hides the reason one invokes it.

When a parent invokes it against their child it is not arrogance (in the relevant sense). However, to consider one’s self the parent and everyone else (or most other people) the child is (at least most of the time) arrogant.

Here’s the thing: arrogance isn’t bad. There’s a great Sherlock Holmes quote: I cannot agree with those who rank modesty among the virtues. To the logician all things should be seen exactly as they are, and to underestimate one’s self is as much a departure from truth as to exaggerate one’s own powers.

And… maybe I’m arguing against myself here. Hmmm…

SABOTEUR's avatar

Ok, @roundsquare.
Point taken.

I’m exhausted…my brain hurts…

Roby's avatar

Some folks are certainly better behaved than others. This should be worth some merit as to what kind of person you are in general. I think Im better than Charlie Sheen, or any of those mean spirited Hollywood Liberals.

mattbrowne's avatar

In a few cases it’s not wrong, for example when honest, compassionate people compare themselves to hatemongers such as neo-Nazis.

Otherwise we all have our strengths and weaknesses.

iamthemob's avatar

Depends on whether we’re using “wrong” in an objective or pejorative sense.

It’s not at all “wrong” all the time, objectively, because sometimes you are better…either morally or in terms of some objectively verifiable skill.

I do believe that it’s never right, and therefore inevitably “wrong”, in the pejorative sense. It’s understandable, but it’s not something you can rest on as it can generally lead to a sense of superiority, which often prevents you from helping people who might very well need it.

Let me put it this way:

It’s not wrong to think that you’re better than someone in all cases.

It’s never right, but it’s perfectly human, to feel like you’re better than someone.

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