I can’t seem to get the picture of the young man from Covington Catholic looking at Native American Nathan Phillips out of my head. I truly hope that the expression on that young man’s face was “Holy moly, what have I gotten myself into!” but unfortunately, to me it looked like disrespect and smugness. It seems to be just another occurrence of one person feeling superior over another.
Seeing oneself as superior has been happening since the beginning of time. Did the original farmers look down on the hunter-gatherers? We know the conquering countries felt superior to those conquered and enslaved. In our reading from St. Paul on Sunday, he seems to rank the value of the various gifts to the church – apostles, prophets, teachers, etc. Are they superior to others? It happens in the workplace also – we rank jobs (and the people in them) based on how much money we pay for that work.
Having a more important job or higher ranking is not a bad thing unless that person considers himself/herself superior to everyone else. When this happens a priest/pastor feels that he/she has a right to take advantage of a child…. a boss feels he/she can demand sexual favors of an employee…. a person is forced into sex or labor slavery…. and a president thinks it’s good to build a wall or enforce a ban on people who speak a different language or practice a different religion. It can even be seen in a teenager’s face.
Let us remember that believing that one is superior is damaging for the person feeling superior and those whom he/she feels superior to. It is often the cause of most of the injustice that takes place in our world today. Take a minute to reflect on your attitude toward others. Are you guilty of feeling superior?