I don’t know if I want special treatment or not.
I’ve been thinking about the strange course my life has taken, the ways I’ve gone against the grain. A lot of my choices don’t make sense from the perspective of someone who is trying to follow established paths in order to get ahead. When I decided not to follow established paths, I guess I did it out of some feeling of moral obligation. What moral obligation would that be? Maybe the simplest way to put it is to notice the increasing (and terrifying) divide between the rich and poor in my country.
The wealthiest 20 percent of people in the USA have been getting wealthier for several decades, while the poorest 80 percent have been getter poorer. What is the moral obligation of someone who finds himself right on the divide, then? I say moral obligation because this is the line, as if there is exactly one ocean liner departing for heaven, where the person who makes it onto the boat is really indistinguishable from the person who gets turned away.
I don’t know if I was ever the type of person who was close enough to the top 20 percent to be able to guarantee himself a position on the boat, if he only tried hard enough. Or if some combination of my character and my circumstances would guarantee the opposite – that I’ve never been the type who would secure a spot in the material elite of the nation (or the world – this is really a world problem I’m talking about). It seems as if my choices – particularly the choice to study the world in isolation instead of believing in the type of authority granted by schools and other institutions – were the kind which, if I ever had a chance to be in the financial elite, would ensure that I would never get there without disrupting at least some of the social norms which created the elite in the first place.
What nags me is my awareness of the phenomenon of psychological projection, and the knowledge that I might be projecting onto the world unfulfillable expectations, and that even though I know about psychological projection, my inner need to continue the projection is so strong that it overrides my most sophisticated understanding of its existence. If this is the case, then a lot of the drama of the world I project onto the outside is actually just my own personal drama, from which I clearly need to awaken. If I am doing this, I haven’t been able to pinpoint precisely the origins of my error.
Knowing that I might have such a projection, I then wonder, how might I behave differently if my delusions were gone? Would I still resist so strongly using the academic system to get ahead in life? I think I avoid things like the academy because it seems like one can’t root out corruption from the inside, when one is already infected with the virus which one hunts. But I know that some day I might wake up and realize that I am simply shooting myself in the foot by waging a one-man war against the academy, that I’ve been hurting no one but myself, that rather than the academy turning out to be the real villain, it is only what I project onto it which is evil. And if I realize that, then it’s inevitable that the reason for my projection was some darkness in my own character, for which I merely found – unconsciously – a convenient scapegoat in the institutions I so love to hate from afar.
What would I do differently if I didn’t project my own hurts and pains onto the world around me? Would my spirit attain a heretofore unknown freedom, a unifying energy which would alleviate many doubts and allow a far more focused type of creativity than I currently know myself to be capable of?
Would such an energy involve the mutually beneficial interchange of resources between myself and whatever institutions I had seen anew because I was no longer seeing myself in them?
Beats me. After all, it’s also possible that I’m not projecting onto them. That my view of institutions and the steep prices they demand are too high to pay in exchange for the rewards they offer. I may not even be projecting onto them, except in a harmless way, the same way the grass is greener on the inaccessible lawn.
I don’t know whether I am projecting or not. I don’t know whether I want special treatment or not. If my views of the external world are correct, then I am seeing reality at a deeper layer. If I am genuinely seeing reality at a deeper layer, then I arguably deserve some sort of special treatment or another. But I can’t ask for special treatment, because if I am projecting things onto the world, then my whole view is simply a defense mechanism for some weakness which is too hard for my ego to bear. I’ve often thought I have such weaknesses.
I do not, however, succumb outright to the weaknesses. I am strong, strong enough to know that I may be delusional, but that it’s worth risking it, just in case I’m not. That has been my life. I can be extremely confused about the slowness and uncertainty of any given moment. Some days I just want to know for sure what is what. I think that’s asking for too much though. After all, if I don’t know what’s going on, maybe no one does. And if no one does, then I’m no more confused, and therefore no more deserving of immediate clarity than anyone else.