The Narcissism of Human Beings: Putting Who We are Into Perspective

I have written many of my blog articles to help us gain some understandings, or perspectives, about who we are, why we believe the ways we believe, why we think the ways we think, and why we behave the ways we behave. The multiplicity of perspectives throughout time are the fodder of propaganda. These propaganda are tools that persons and groups who hold power use to perpetuate perspectives that promote their agenda and privilege. Entire systems are planned, created, and sustained in order to promote particular perspectives. These perspectives are narcissistic in that they promote the elitism of a few. The perspectives of White heterosexual Protestant men, for example, promotes an elitism that privileges them and creates varying degrees of oppression at various intersections that include gender, race, age, religion, education, sexuality, class, health/abilities, and so forth. Anyone who does not have “membership” in the group characterized by White heterosexual Protestant men are viewed as “Other.” Their status as “Other” creates varying degrees of oppression because those who are socially constructed as “Other” do not have access to the same systems of privilege afforded to those with membership by virtue of their status. White heterosexual Protestant men plan, create, and fund systems that privilege them. The policies they create support these socially constructed systems and provide systemic benefits to those who have membership in the group. 

Just as membership and privilege is not equal for the members of the group (that is, it varies by degree), so too does the oppression experienced by “Others” vary by degree. For example, White heterosexual Protestant women do not experience the same degree of privilege as White heterosexual Protestant men, they do not enjoy the degrees of privilege that the systems offer to White heterosexual Protestant men. One need look no further than the corporate work environment where women are paid less than White heterosexual men. White gay men do not have the same privileges as White heterosexual men and women in the workplace. My doctoral research demonstrated that fat persons do not enjoy the same privileges as persons whose body size conform to rigid size standards that are “built into” hiring practices.

There exists a narcissism among privileged persons and groups. There is a sense of deserving their status and having access to systems that support and maintain their privileges. There is a great indignance when those privileges are challenged. I am confident that there are those who will read my blog articles and feel indignant because I am challenging perspectives that are “built into” the very make-up of group membership. The indignance felt may not even be conscious to those who experience it. For example, ignorant White people who believe they are superior to Persons of Color may not be conscious of their indignance. That is because of the ignorance they inherited from their parents and communities. It is simply engrained in the fabric of their group and who they are as a group is “fundamentally” constructed. I will speak more about what I mean by “fundamentally” constructed in a future blog post. Suffice it to say, the ignorance of White racists holds a fundamental place in White Protestant heterosexual culture. A hard pill for many White persons to swallow is that there is, in fact, a degree of narcissism associated with membership in society that has planned and constructed the privileges it affords to a few while closing at least one eye to the oppression that our membership causes “Others.” You can be as indignant as you like, but reality bears out the truth of what I am saying. Even if you claim you are not racist, you are by virtue of your membership in, and your day-to-day enjoyment of, the privileges of systemic racism. 

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