Updated: Jun 3, 2021
By Tarish Rajakarier | Canada
When you see a pair of Gucci slides you think of money.
In a capitalist society, money is status.
IMO: Developed countries are just developing countries with Gucci slides.
According to this statement, it has become apparent in the past 3 months that the UK and USA are actually developing countries who flaunt their wealth and are pretentious with their global status. America: the example to the world. The example to the world? I agree and disagree.
We have seen how America has failed as a government and society; it has utterly failed to uphold its constitution and founding principles. The current government says that it does its part for the economy, thereby upholding the title “The Land of Opportunity”, but does this remain the case?
America comprises refugees, immigrants, and indigenous communities yet we see a pattern of oppression being unraveled here that exists in several developing nations too. The feelings of inferiority which are ingrained in communities have been widely addressed, so I want to talk about the feelings of superiority.
Self-affirmation is a theory of psychology which implies that when people’s identities are threatened, they seek to affirm other positive traits. Though a popular scope for positive psychology, self-affirmation can be dangerous when prevalent in organizations of authority: the majority’s positive traits are affirmed.
In every nation-state a government has a majority, a population has a majority, and even a social circle has at least one majority. Governments self-affirm that those belonging to the majority have good values, a rich culture, and a prestigious history. Government majorities and social majorities self-affirm that they do good for the majority of the country – this in itself creates a divide.
This need for self-affirmation is a result of the threat posed to the values of the majority by the behaviors of minority communities. This need can be seen in any of Trump’s speeches where he speaks about the supposed good he has done (even when no one asks) and deflects off his (many) shortcomings. Not all people are aware that they themselves do this – hopefully you will be now, as this prevents many of us from being open to change.
This simple aspect of introspection is holding back many changes we need for better informed awareness. For example, if I hold the belief that my country’s government is ‘good’ then when it is accused of some wrongdoing like corruption I will defend it based on the merit of how well they might have advanced our infrastructure.
If your identity is closely linked to your country, religion, race, sport, occupation or hobby – you will undoubtedly treat it as a part of your personality and defend it as such.
Let’s do some simple math: If you affirm positive traits and ignore the negative ones…you get a positive. This is what I see as a leading cause of the feelings of ‘superiority’. With an increasing number of threats from other communities, you become less likely to believe in your own negatives and blindly trust even the most trivial positive affirmations if it supports your integrity.
The problem is that when a majority of people aggregate this feeling and combine it with the need to quash any threats to their values – we get racism. What shocked me about the recent anti-racism movements is not the light shed on police, systems or governments – it is the backlash which has been cropping up across North America. From modern lynching to mailing leaflets portraying racist views, the true colors of certain people are showing.
Coming back to this article’s title – Developed countries, especially the ‘United’ States of America, face the same problems most developing countries have been openly facing for generations.
When a government refuses to make certain changes it drives people to increasingly intense forms of protest. When a government continuously chooses to self-affirm it creates social divisions. There will be both an uneducated population who will blindly follow the government’s agenda and an educated upper class who are more apathetic regarding societal matters. Moreover, many developing countries have handled this pandemic far better than America and I think that really says something about the country everyone looks toward for opportunity, prosperity, and quality of life.
Points I hope you take away:
Don’t believe everything that supports your view – form a comprehensive understanding through your own research of valid and reliable sources (i.e. not government statements or state news agencies).
Consider the opposing arguments and be open to re-evaluating your views.
Appreciate what you have gained from other groups – music, food, clothes, activities
Be proud of yourself, your identity, culture, heritage and job – but DON’T let it hinder your view of someone else.
While money can buy the Gucci Slides (economy), a pair of Adidas might be more comfortable.
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