The tendency to view other people as inferior or lesser than oneself is troubling and destructive. It stems from ego, arrogance, and insecurity, and it causes harm to individuals and society as a whole.
Seeing other people as beneath you says more about your own insecurities than their worth. You elevate yourself by putting others down to lift yourself. But true self-worth comes from within, not by judgment of others. Everyone deserves to be seen and treated with inherent dignity and respect, regardless of race, class, gender, or other attributes.
Viewing others as lesser leads to cruelty and injustice. It makes it easier to dismiss their experiences, exploit them, or inflict harm without a guilty conscience. Throughout history, this mindset has justified oppression, discrimination, and violence against groups of people. It is the root cause of some of humanity’s greatest evils.
A more just, equitable, and compassionate world is one where we see each other as equal. We may have different talents, opportunities, and life experiences, but underneath it all, we share the same hopes, dreams, desires, and humanity. We all want to love and be loved, to pursue meaning and purpose, and to leave the world a little better than we found it.
Practicing empathy and seeing people as whole, complex human beings can help counter the tendency to view them as lesser. Putting yourself in their shoes helps you understand their struggles and appreciate the dignity of their lives. Recognizing your shared vulnerabilities and value helps build compassion.
Embracing diversity and inclusion exposes you to different perspectives and ways of living, being, and thinking. You may discover insights and ideas that broaden your mind in ways you never imagined possible. Every person has worth, and we are all greater than the sum of our parts.
The next time you’re tempted to see someone as lesser, pause and reconsider. Look for the light within them and the value they bring to the world, just as you would want others to do for you. Treat people the way you wish to be treated. Raise yourself by lifting others. Build a more just world one moment at a time.