It occurs to me on a daily basis that we have an issue with being humble. All of us want to be saviors... even if the people that need saving don't really agree that they need help.
Take for instance Brit Hume from Fox News. Last week Brit decided to dole out some advice to poor, ailing Tiger Woods. He suggested that Tiger give up his Buddhist ways in favor of Christianity. Now this was much ado about nothing for a few days because a lot of the dolts in America thought to themselves... "Hey, that's some darn good advice!" Now perhaps I should have let sleeping assholes lay, but this is yet another example of the world of AmeriChristian egotism that underlies a whole host of much larger and deeper issues with all that is us (and by us, I mean the white/anglo-saxon/christian us... as if I had to clarify). Not knowing Brit personally, I can't make a judgment call on his level of assholedness. I can assume that Brit really believed that he was giving out good advice to someone who is having a hard time. And that exact point is the problem that I don't hear discussed nearly enough in our culture today. Those who know better simply call him an asshole and move on. Those that agree with him are growing in number simply because there isn't enough discussion to combat his views.
Let's dissect a bit...
Brit believes, it would seem from his remarks, that Tiger stands a better chance of forgiveness under Brit's belief system than he does under his own. In other words... Christianity is better than Buddhism, and Brit is better than Tiger. And to reap the rewards of God, Tiger must become a Fox News contributor, or something like that. Brit, who doesn't seem very well versed in Buddhism to start with, jumps to conclusions about forgiveness without even the hint that Brit's path might not be the only path to enlightenment. The underlying message, for those that read the subtext, is that this is America... and to be a good American, and to get into God's grace... there is but one path. Brit therefore sees himself as the savior of Tiger. And anyone that doesn't think that he is right is either a Nazi or a Communist... or more than likely, both.
The savior complex is deep and profound in this country. It permeates all of us. To take an example from the other extreme, in Avatar, James Cameron's main character sets out to connect with an alien race by literally becoming one of them. He is thus able to understand them and their culture at a much deeper level than a regular white/anglo-saxon/christian would. This would seem to be the antithesis of Brit Hume, who I can't really see trying on yellow robes anytime soon. But even here Cameron's hero is us... and Cameron's hero is the savior. The aliens can not conceivably save themselves without our help. And the only logical alternative is that WE must intervene.
The downfall of the United States of Us will come, not from the success or failure of the liberal agenda, or the right wing egotism... but from forgetting the fact that money and military power don't mean that one's beliefs are therefore more right than anyone else's. Our foreign policy is rife this approach to things. In Iraq. In Afghanistan. In China. Even in Haiti. We run to be the saviors. I would hope that we do it because it is the right thing to do in Haiti (since several of those other problems were our own making). There is no doubt that tragedies like Haiti require help... money and power set forth for a cause to save and rebuild. But I think many do it because, like Brit Hume, we think it makes us somehow superior. And we can't wait to crow about what we did to help. Because, like a tree falling in the woods, no good deed is really a good deed if there aren't people there to brag to about it.
We all want to be superior in some way. Whether it be in the clothes we wear. Or the scores that we get on our tests. Or the wealth we accumulate. Or the religion we practice. All of it, at the heart, differentiates us from others for the purpose of making us feel more worthy than those that think or dress or act differently. The concept of "live and let live" does not play well in that arena. And every day I see a world striving to be saviors, instead of world that understands that "letting live" doesn't entail changing all the others to live just like you.
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