I live in Silicon Valley, which as we’ve seen, has spawned people with Messiah Complexes. There’s always someone out there ready to save the world with their new solution or idea – you can check the marketing materials. And if you think you know who I’m talking about, you’re probably wrong by the odds – because we’ve got a lot of them.
I also move in spiritual and political spaces. There’s plenty of messiahs there to, ready to tell you how to save your soul and save the world., sometimes at the same time It’s the same old gig we’ve seen for thousands of years, really. Oh, and once again if you think you know who I’m taking about you’re probably wrong because of, again, the odds.
Now you may think I’m going to talk about grifters and opportunists. I am, tangentially, but I’m also talking self-proclaimed Messiahs in general. Because Messianism goes pathological if it didn’t start that way.
Think about what it takes to think you’re a Messiah. You have to believe that you are the one or a small amount of the ones who will save the planet. You have to know that it’s up to you to do everything, that you’re the linchpin of human history. You have to think you’re really special, if not touched by God or his/her immediate stand-in.
Know what you also have to believe? That everyone else is useless without you.
To be a Messiah is to know you’re special and by contrast everyone else is lesser. A Messiah may not say it, may not think it, but they must believe everyone else is lost without them. I don’t’ buy the superiority of these Messiahs, but it seems obvious many of them didn’t just buy it, they got a subscription.
In fact, to be a Messiah, you need other people to be worse than you. Messiahs are nothing without someone to save. To be the savior is to need people who need saving, and without that a Messiah means nothing. If your identity is bound up in being a Messiah, then other people automatically get a downgrade in your book.
What of those people who don’t think they need you? To many a Messiah, they’re the enemy, the disbeliever, the opponent of humanity. To get in the way of the Great Savior by not believing in them shakes up the entire Messiah’s belief system.
Being a Savior needs the saved, and needs someone to explain why the salvation isn’t happening.
This is a pretty toxic mix. You have to believe people are worse and that you’re the best or better. I also am pretty damn sure many a self-proclaimed Messiah started with the dislike of other people or increased self-regard, and then built up from there. I imagine many an honest, sincere Messiah even lost their metaphysical marbles confronting all of these psychodynamics.
Even a potential benevolent Messiah risks getting pretty goddamn pathological. I’m sure in this day and age many of the mass-media Messianic Maniacs started pathological and only went up from there – or down, depending on your viewpoint.
So no, I don’t trust Messiahs. I trust people, folks as messy as I am, hands dirty, getting busy just trying to get things done. There’s lots of those, working every day. Some of them may be legitimate Messiahs . . .
. . . but you’d never know it. And maybe it’s better that way for all of us.