I am reading Edward Gibbon's short history of Christianity, within his Decline Of The Roman Empire. In it he relates how early bishops of initially independent church's began to wield influence, initially over others within their church, and then over each other.
I find it such an entertaining read. And I can't help but feel we have a certain tendency to set ourselves into hierarchies. That for whatever reason, positive or negative, some attain people reach positions of authority over others, and the majority are influenced by the few. In villages, cities, states, kingdoms, fiefdoms, empires, countries, schools, and work places.
We seem to do this naturally on one hand. Possibly as an efficient tool of any democratic system based on merit. On the other hand we also tends towards this equilibrium due to self interest, frequently at the expense of others. In this case it is an end result of competition that is not necessarily in the collective interest like Adam Smith's Invisible Hand.
I wonder that it is propensities like these that make empathy difficult. That cause us to see some people as superior or inferior - according to arbitrary social, educational or commercial symbols of status for example. And it hinders our ability to want to relate. History certainly seems to bear witness to this illusion of self importance. For an illusion is all that it is.
25th February, 2022