We share this planet with billions of arrogant monsters and these monsters live in each and every one of us. If in the past we could compare ourselves with a couple of people from our neighborhood or the village, we can now expand it to basically the whole planet. The Internet and all kinds of social media are giving us a wonderful opportunity to envy other people and at the same time feel like we are better than them.
So often we see the movies and read books where the world is divided into good and evil people, everything is black and white. But is it true? Are some people really better than the others? Are some people really superior?
This is one of the main ideas of the book Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. The main character of the book divides the world into weak, disposable ones and superior, super humans, who can do whatever they want with the rest of ordinary people.
This kind of arrogance is a big problem in today’s world and it is not something only certain people feel. We all compare ourselves to our neighbors, coworkers, the shop assistant and other drivers on the highway. So very often we feel like we are better, more beautiful or smarter than them, that we would do a better job than they any time given their life.
We all have something in our brain called mirror neurons. These neurons are responsible for our empathy—thanks to them we suffer when we see other people suffering and we are happy when we see very happy people walking by. We mirror their behavior and feelings. But that is not all. When people share our ethnicity, political views, religion or come from the same background, we tend to listen to them much more than to people who are different. The hack is that those people might have valuable knowledge to share.
We cannot define who is a good person, therefore it is impossible to define who is a better person. We consider people better or worse than us based on our own criteria, with our own limited knowledge.
Borders are separating knowledge, resources, and wealth (and humans). Many studies have shown that by opening the borders and letting people circulate as they please, we would improve the planet’s wealth from 67 to 172%! So what are we waiting for? Well, we are way too scared and arrogant at the same time to even consider it even if this would boost the economy and improve all of our lives.
The answer that both Dostoevsky and self-improvement are offering is to be humble. We should stop judging others and comparing ourselves to them. Instead, we have to start listening to them. Nobody is over anybody. Humbleness helps to keep an open mind and improve consistently. There will always be something we can learn because everyone has his own story and her own knowledge. Actually, the more different people are from us, the more there is to learn from them.
To be the best, we have to stay open to everybody’s knowledge, opinion, and experiences. We are the same as our “stupid neighbor” or the African dictator. Human—living, and learning.