There is some old shame in me that reverts to ranking certain people as a defensive move against a deep fear that I’m less-than. The process begins with insecurity flaring, which situates myself beneath the person that I perceive to have one-up on me, then analyzing them to find qualities that I think I rank above, and finally using their flaws as justification to demote them under me and get in the higher position.
Joke’s on me because I know that I’m not on solid ground and I never really feel better when I do this. Rather than healing the shame that’s causing this behavior, the act of ranking creates more harm and disconnects me further from the inherent goodness and worth in myself (and in them).
When I look beyond the clinging webs of competition, comparison, and criticism, the truth is clear – we are all connected; equal links in the chain of humanity. We share the same neurobiological hardwiring that makes us dependent on each other for survival; the same genetic framework that makes us vulnerable and full of fears, desires, hopes, and a fundamental need to be seen, heard, and accepted for who we truly are. Our connection as human beings on this planet and in this life is inextricable.
The injustices and cruelties in the world derive from ranking – certain identities are determined to be more valuable, more deserving of respect and care, more human than others. The progress we have made, and any developments we hope to continue into the future, only come about when we operate from a place of foundational equality; an understanding that each link must be protected and cared for so that the whole chain can be strong. Moving beyond fear, I can see that I am bound together with everyone – including those who I mistakenly perceive as adversaries.
We are not ranked; we are linked.