I had a weird thought this morning.
As I was stuck in traffic on my way to work – my mind still processing all the news I shared with you yesterday as well as trying to determine what the hell is wrong with the people in the surrounding cars (Just. MERGE.) – I caught a glimpse of my teeth in the rearview mirror. I’d been mouthing along to a song on the radio and I noticed that my top teeth were tapping my bottom teeth in perfect alignment.
“Would you look at that,” I thought. “My teeth are straight. Neat.”
I felt some pride for having nice teeth again and then, almost as an afterthought, I pitied those who didn’t have straight teeth and their sad, inferior genes.
Whoa, wait… WHAT?? Where did THAT come from?
I immediately felt ashamed for thinking such a negative thought and attributed it to several things: an early morning, a lack of sleep, no recovery time, an overabundance of bad news, a recent lovers’ quarrel, this d-bag in the Lexus (OH MY GOD, MERGE ALREADY).
The thing is, my teeth aren’t straight because I’m genetically superior. Far from it. Were I genetically superior, I wouldn’t have needed my wisdom teeth pulled. Seems pretty inferior to me to end up growing more teeth than I’ve got jaw real estate for. And even after getting those 2 teeth removed, the rest STILL ended up being crooked.
No, my teeth were straight because, as a child, my parents could afford to get me braces. They were straight for a long time. Then, around 6 or 7 years ago, they stopped being entirely straight. Through no fault of my own, my face continued to grow and change and my teeth just shifted along with it.
My teeth are now back to being straight because, this past year, I was finally in a position to afford getting Invisalign. I don’t want to discount the effort I put into saving for the procedure or my diligence in wearing the trays everyday but I could only do the “hard work” because I could afford to do it. Does having straighter teeth make me a better person? No. More confident, maybe, but not a better person. And was I bad person when my teeth weren’t straight? Of course not. So why would I think that of other people now?
The reason I’m writing about all this is because I’m starting to wonder if evolution has wired the brain in a way that, if enough things change, it resets to a new normal and then pretends that it was always that way. And perhaps, when that happens, the brain instinctively reclassifies people who were once equals as being “lesser” because they haven’t achieved what you have (regardless of how you achieved it or whether or not you’ve earned it).
Recently I’ve heard people with advantages being described as having been “born on third base”. So, using that analogy, when that person reaches home plate, maybe it’s natural for him to feel superior, to look down on those who haven’t done the same.
If you’ve accomplished something and you have similar thoughts but then you feel bad for having them and you feel empathy for those who didn’t have your advantages and that makes you want to help others run the bases, that makes you a good person.
But, if once you’ve made it home, your goal is to prevent the “inferior” others from even getting a chance play the game, well, that makes you a bad person.
And it probably means you work in governement right now.