The Greatest Desire

The strongest drive is neither love nor hate nor indeed the urge to change another's copy. The greatest desire appears to be to experience moments of moral superiority over others, however minor or petty these moments may be.

It's true, think about it. Maybe you're not like that, but they certainly are.


This trait is most obvious when you unintentionally make a faux pas, especially one involving death.  You might comment on how so-and-so has seemed a bit grumpy lately.

If you're quick you can see the first moments of internal drama playing themselves out on the face of the person who knows something you don't and is therefore about to put you down, score a point and feel good about themselves at your expense for a couple of seconds.

The first micro-expression to cross their visage is one of astonishment. They can't believe their luck. They've been handed this one on a fucking plate. Astonishment is swiftly followed by delight. I'm going to enjoy this! They can barely contain themselves and start to look as if they're hatching an egg. Eventually after what seems like several seconds savouring the anticipation, they strike.

"Well it's not surprising.  Seeing as so-and-so's favourite grandmother DIED last week."

They sit back, an expression of faux censure masking the shit-eating grin that must surely be all over their inner face.  They stuck it to you good.  The view from the temporary moral high ground is a magnificent one. Chalk it up on life's scoresheet.  I won THAT.

Of course it's not always about death, and perhaps more significantly, it's not always a solo sport with the recipient of the moral bombshell an unwitting target. Sometimes it's a duel.

Picture a rush hour tube journey. The train pulling into a station packed absolutely solid. You've long ago given up hope of reading any of your book, squeezed as you are between the man who obviously hasn't washed his overcoat in eight months and the sickly looking youth whose skin is swimming with grease in the unbearable heat. The doors open. No-one exits. And then it comes. That Voice.

"Excuse me, could you move down please?" Subtext: because obviously you're all being incredibly selfish not making room for anyone else, and anyone with a scrap of decency would make room, if I was on there, I'd do it, and the fact you're not just goes to prove how morally inferior you are to me...

Someone on board might attempt to be reasonable and point out that there really isn't any more room. This isn't good enough for That Voice. It's spotted something.

"I can see some space there! You could all move down."

This is where Voice 2 sees its chance. Voice 2 is deep in the carriage, right next to the apparent space and can see the reason for its existence. More importantly for Voice 2, it can see an opportunity to put That Voice in its place.  It has a moral ace up its sleeve.

"It's a dog. A Guide Dog. For a blind man." Voice 2 almost explodes with pleasure at being granted the opportunity to deliver this coup de grĂ¢ce . Voice 2 has won, and what a devastating victory it was. The doors close and Voice 2 smiles all the way to the next station. It's a good day.

What it boils down to is feeling good about yourself at someone else's expense. Which this blog entry could conceivably be interpreted as attempting to do.

Damn it.


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