Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I'm As Good As You

Screwtape reveals the devilish genius behind getting humans to assert, "I'm as good as you are":

The first and most obvious advantage is that you thus induce him to enthrone at the centre of his life a good, solid resounding lie. I don't mean merely that his statement is false in fact, that he is no more equal to everyone he meets in kindness, honesty, and good sense than in height or waist-measurement. I mean that he does not believe it himself. No man who says I'm as good as you believes it. He would not say it if he did. The St. Bernard never says it to the toy dog, nor the scholar to the dunce, nor the employable to the bum, nor the pretty woman to the plain. The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior. What it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept.

And therefore resents. Yes, and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation. Presently he suspects every mere difference of being a claim to superiority. No one must be different from himself in voice, clothes, manners, recreations, choice of food. 'Here is someone who speaks English rather more clearly and euphoniously than I--it must be a vile, upstage, lah-di-dah affectation. Here's a fellow who says he doesn't like hot dogs--thinks himself too good for them no doubt. Here's a man who hasn't turned on the jukebox--he must be one of those highbrows and is doing it to show off. If they were the right sort of chaps they'd be like me. They've no business to be different. It's undemocratic.'
~C.S. Lewis, "Screwtape Proposes a Toast", The Screwtape Letters (1942)

1 Comment(s):

At Wed Oct 26, 01:10:00 PM EST, Blogger MrKimi said...

I find the 'it's undemocratic' comment very sinister. This is a way of undermining the only sensible political system we have by trying to say we have to be equal. We often talk about the 'tall poppy syndrome' around here, where tall poppies get lopped off.

 

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