What else is self-esteem besides an objective attempt at comparison? One says "I like myself" because they live up to their own parameters of worth, but how are said parameters developed? Inevitably doesn't a person hone standards of what they deem meritous by taking examples from other people? So if we don't base our self-esteem on what others think, or of who others are, what is it then based on?
Certain admirable characteristics in others strike chords in us that say "this is good, this is something I would like to employ in myself" and we thusly try. Ed Bagley Jr. is an unltra-environmentalist, which I find admirable, so I try to be as well because eco-altruism appeals to me. It strikes my biologically hard-wired chord. And when I satisfy my yen to nourish that desire I feel as if I have done something proper, and I think better of myself.
But I've also observed people hunting, and despite it being en vogue among several people around me I still find it vulgar, simian, and indicative of intellectual reversion to baser instincts. It doesn't nourish any desire in me whatsoever (not even when it's headed right for us!).
I've no idea where self-esteem comes from, or what it says that it's something you can supposedly "work on." I would say it's just a victim of circumstance and you have less control over it than some would suggest. But mine sucks and maybe it's just more convenient for me to think so.
As such and contrarily, I'm going to try to become the master of my own self-esteem, instead of the reverse. Really the power of thought is vastly underestimated. We approach life as time to make money to live, live well and die comfortably, but the standard of "living well" is a fabrication made up by our environment and peers. Most people quickly lose the ability to close their eyes and go on a vacation, or be able to look straight up into the sky or see a blade of grass and marvel at its beauty wherever you happen to be. There is a disconnect between rationality and sensory perception. We accept what we see, smell, hear, taste and touch as real, or "tangible." How does anyone know what is or isn't real though?
It's all objectivity, which delineates that real truth does not exist. As sson as the brain processes some stimulus it applies experience, thought, and the subject is skewed somehow. Think about how a person's mood affects their outlook on themselves and the world. I say this based on personal experience (and from endless cliches about optimism), but when I'm in a good mood I think more highly of myself, work becomes easier, not much can get me down. And a person's outlook is basically a choice they make based on external stimuli, to be gumpy or happy or generous or vengeful, etc. So essentially I choose what my reality is, based on interpretations of external factors that affect me.
A person's natural instinct can in a sense be counterintuitive; we ALLOW certain conditions in our lives we perceive as negative to become internalized, and thus affect our mood. And who really WANTS to be in a bad mood (masochists aside)? Why can't we redefine how we react to those stimuli? It's probably not easy but with practice why can't it be done? It's just a choice.
You can apply this to today's neo-conservatives. Their opinions are based not on what we would call "reality" but rather a conjured reality they've created for themselves in order to rationalize their true ends. They decide what outcome they desire then formulate the environment around it to provide the means.
And people as a whole are too preoccupied with ends. The roller coaster analogy -- you look forward to the steep drop and loops, but without the nerve-wracking, jolting, rattling trip up the giant hill the whole experience would be ruined, or at least mitigated. Anticipation in life is what gratifies. It's the same way you enjoy taking a piss much more after you've been holding it in forever than under normal circumstances.
So is this whole experience we call life just clattering up the roller-coaster incline waiting for the big thrill? What big thrill are we hoping we'll arrive at? Religions say the afterlife, but I say that getting there is more than half the fun. It may be the only fun there is. You have to appreciate the here and now because noone knows for certain where this "journey" will lead to, if anywhere. As Trinity said in The Matrix, "..it's the question that drives us..."
People who vanquish their enemies are left with no purpose. The thrill of the chase needs to be more appreciated by all of us. My cat loves playing with straws, and when I'm swinging it all around and playing tug-of-war he's ecstatic. But when I let go, when I let him win, he just kind of sits there with this disappointed look on his chevy chase.
Getting there is half the fun? Understatement.
Lots of hawkish Americans aver that the torture of detainees, arbitrarily labelled as "hostile combatants" to whom the Geneva Conventions allegedly don't apply, deserve to be tortured, because they do it to innocent Americans. Two people standing next to each other, both supportive of this mentality, should sport "I'm with stupid" shirts. You don't become great by lowering your own standards to those of your enemies, who you claim to be evil. I.e., they're bad so we should be bad too? Doesn't that only prove that a fair Democracy based on laws does not work? It's imperative that, no matter how heinous the actions of our enemies may be, that we adhere to a higher moral standard than they, otherwise we have no right to complain about their tactics.
And the idea of beating "terrorists who hate our freedom" by sacrificing those freedoms ourselves is mind-numbing on so many levels. It's tantamount to committing suicide so no one can kill you.
But sadly we do not live in an age of reason.