My friend Joe

He's a pretty nice guy, and I have real affection for him. Like all of us, he has his faults, but he is often generous. He is open-minded, when measured against the average human. He is fairly accepting of those from other cultures, and will often stretch himself to understand them. He welcomes innovation in many areas, and is not unduly tied to past ways of doing things.

But Joe has one serious character flaw: he believes he is exceptional, indeed, unique, among humans. When Bill proposes that we should hold the neighborhood barbeque at his house, rather than at Joe's, Joe can only believe that it is because Bill is in some "axis of evil," and that Joe is then  justified in entering Bill's yard and destroying Bill's grill. If Joe lets his kids watch The Wire, but Ira, another neighbor, decides it is too violent for her kids, Joe declares this a "human rights violation," and tries to get all of the other neighbors to stop dealing with Ira.

And when, due to my sincere affection for Joe, I try to get him to realize that he is not exceptional, but just another flawed human being like the rest of us, he declares I am "anti-Joe," and that I hate him.

It is tough to help someone out of this condition, but I think I have to keep on trying.


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