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Being "Small" and Reputation

Updated: May 13

Unorganized room

Here's an anecdote: Back when I was a student at school, the teacher told us that the education minister is currently suffering from a certain illness (I don't remember what that was). This had nothing to do with anything other than that he was our "superior", so I genuinely asked the teacher. Why should we care about him when he does not care for us individually?

In other words, if one of us had an illness, most likely no one would tell him about it, so why should we know about his personal illnesses if he doesn't care about our own (assuming, of course, that he doesn't)?

This, if I recall correctly, enraged the teacher, as she expected us to care for him, even though we had no incentive to, other than the fact that he was our superior. Even if we cared, we had nothing to do with this information. We wouldn't call our parents, and tell them that the education minister is ill, and we wouldn't post about it on social media. Then what is the point, other than the polite expression of concern, which might as well be dishonest?

That is the sad truth about us humans: most of us care not for those who seem "foreign" to us, but for those who are within our sense of "tribe": family, friends, and people we appreciate beyond any "regular" human.

We are, to an extant, tribal beings, and those who exist beyond our sense of belonging, beyond our personal and societal circle, are most likely to not care much about us, no matter who they are in life or what they are enduring (or have endured, if they have died).

I was once told something strange by a relative. That North Korea isn't part of the world. Of course they are, for they do not exist in outer space. They own a land on Earth, and they exist there just like any of us. The relative said so not because North Koreans are aliens but because they forcibly isolate themselves from the world, so much so that it is difficult to call them a part of the international community.

In fact, they seem to be on the other side of said community rather than a part of it. Because of this lack of identity, many of us will likely not care about the hellish conditions in that "hermit kingdom.".

On the contrary, should said conditions apply to nations such as the U.S. or the U.K., it's most likely that people will be in far greater shock, due to the fact that many people identify themselves as "Western" or view the "Western world" as dominant enough for one to care about them.

What I'm trying to say in all of this is that one's reputation has a lot to do with being cared for by others, while those who are "small" are likelier to be ignored or have their significance demoted (in comparison).

In other words, in a world where humans have an equal share of existence, they will care for each other not equally, but in coherence with their reputation. Should there be, for example, a systematic civilian genocide in America like there is in North Korea, only then should people significantly care for the consistent loss of human life.

If you wish, therefore, to be cared for beyond your local circles, then you must be known somehow for something, and have that something have a significant impact on the world or, at least, on some people.

Returning to the anecdote in the beginning. Education ministers exist in every country (or at least in most countries, I don't know), and the fact that your local minister got sick does not mean you will necessarily care about it, because that minister might be too "small" to you, in comparison to, for instance, the American president.

According to this site, over 1 million people die each year by committing suicide, which means that every 6 years, 6 million people die of this reason, compared to the similar number of Jews who died in the Holocaust in the same amount of years (1939–1945). You can say that, therefore, in each period of 6 years there is a "holocaust" of suicide victims worldwide, far more, obviously, than the total number of Jews who died in WWII.

This is insane, and yet, because suicide is taboo in many places, it is less talked about than known historical events. How ironic, that a contemporary issue is overshadowed by a war that happened a long time ago.

Of course, this isn't to say that the Holocaust wasn't terrible. But suicide, which is preferred by many to be discussed in private, is more terrible in terms of death caused by the attempted genocide in WWII. And yet, you won't likely see it on the news or on the various media channels, all because it is a disturbing public discussion topic. Because it is... "small". Unless you're a celebrity who's done it.

As you can see, we humans are very biased beings, to the point that we would overshadow important topics in favor of things that we associate with our personal and societal circles. This could apply not only to the "commoners" of the world but, theoretically, to any official, simply because they are humans.

And to be human is to be flawed (one of the traits, at least). There are things happening, in humanity's shadows, that we are not aware of, due to their subjective or intersubjective importance.

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most likely that people will be in far greater sock


Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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