A few weeks ago I wrote (somewhere else) about my fear of becoming boring, and expressed the view that the vast majority of everyone is just that. It seems I had fallen victim to a particular disease of thought which has bothered me for a long time, and has recently reached galling proportions. That is, I had become an intellectual elitist.
I don't know the exact causes of this problem, but I can speculate. Perhaps it's a by-product of our education systems, which throw children together in such a way that the biggest and meanest perpetually abuse those not so big and mean, and create in the oppressed a sense of frustration that is usually mitigated only by the belief that they are smarter than their oppressors, and this is the cause of their plight. This, of course, is an obvious fallacy, but it is one that a distressing proportion of people never seem to outgrow.
Or, perhaps it has nothing to do with childhood experiences and is the natural result of disagreements. We've all experienced the frustration of arguing with someone whose worldview is so radically different from our own that we literally cannot wrap our minds around it, cannot understand how they can hold these views without also drooling a bit and wearing a foam helmet. And yet, there they stand, as well put-together as ourselves and, in their own way, every bit as intelligent. If it were not so there would be no reason to argue, after all. The strength of our righteousness would obliterate their faulty ideas if they were, in fact, completely wrong and stupid.
It's not that simple, though, is it? Somehow, all these people with insane ideas are able to live productive lives and be happy in their own ways, oblivious to the fact that they are clearly wrong-headed and ignorant. The fools! The benighted masses! If only they would open their minds to the truth of our positions their liberation would be swift and sure, and a gentle peace would settle upon the world.
That's the problem, really. That millions upon billions of people can live as well as we do without the benefit of our superior ideas shows our elitism to be a vicious lie. It might make us feel better to believe they are all mistaken, but there comes a point where it is obvious that either we are wrong as well, or that there can be such a thing as multiple correct viewpoints in this world, some seemingly diametrically opposed. Personally, I'd rather think most people have a valuable contribution to make than to believe that everyone's worthless and the world's going to pot, but your mileage may vary.