“A Chosen People”: Its Varied Forms Down Human History

by Fernando Perfas

I Photo by Davide Ragusa on Unsplash

The idea of a favored tribe of men springs from the Old Testament of the Judeo-Christian Bible. It refers to the Jews as God’s “chosen people.” The Old Testament is replete with instances of the God of Abraham bestowing favors on Israelites in difficult situations or conflict against enemies. In Judaism, the idea of a “chosen people” remains a central theme to this day, supported by historical accounts of the Old Testament.

The idea of a “special people” with a set of entitlements is not unique to the Bible. A well-known example is Hitler glorifying the Aryan race as superior to others to which he claims the Germanic people belong. He literally flipped the concept on the Jews, whom he tried to eliminate as “scums of the earth.” The medieval concept of “the divine right of king” in Christian Europe is a politico-religious belief of God bestowing political power on rulers. It’s an adaptation of the old concept of a favored people by royalties.

Yet another example is the Europeans who settled and displaced the American Indians in North America. Here the old concept is reincarnated into the idea of a “manifest destiny.” It buttresses the claims by what is now the United States of America over Indian land. We see a similar concept in Christian and Islamic faiths with their followers, according to their doctrines, favored by God or Allah while the unbelievers or infidels are condemned to the fires of hell. And a more current conception is white supremacy, which has grown into a political movement and has even been embraced by a political party promoting a divisive belief of one race above others.

“The conception of a favored people or group has resulted in more conflicts than achieving tolerance and peace. It’s a perspective that embraces exclusivity, treating anyone outside as fair game. When a racial group elevates its status or believes in its superiority over others, it dehumanizes those they consider beneath them.”

The conception of a favored people or group has resulted in more conflicts than achieving tolerance and peace. It’s a perspective that embraces exclusivity, treating anyone outside as fair game. When a racial group elevates its status or believes in its superiority over others, it dehumanizes those they consider beneath them. Take the case of racial discrimination as an example or the lowly status of women in many societies. These have become explosive political issues because they result in all sorts of abuses.

When a group or class of people believes they are inherently better or above others based on religious or racial affiliation, it becomes a convenient excuse to treat those below poorly. Our history is littered with innocent victims over this belief. In ancient, highly stratified Indian society, the Brahmin was considered the most superior caste and the Dalits or Untouchables the lowest; the latter were shunned and forbidden to interact with others in society. To a great extent, most societies are stratified based on social or economic status, with the elite enjoying better privileges and the poor often neglected and forgotten.

The major flaw of the favored people conception is the absence of an ultimate authority as a basis for claims of a higher status. It is often based on mere belief, and in some instances, as a tool for mundane and sinister purposes. It is mostly a human invention to satisfy man’s burning ambition to feel important and counter his inherent feeling of insignificance.

To take this argument to a philosophical or ontological level, assuming there is a God, why would such a wise Being promote a divisive force in His realm? Wouldn’t it be logical to take all beings, big or small, equal in His eyes and share the same spark of divine consciousness?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR   Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at fbperfas@gmail.com.

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