Would this confer more entitlement, or obligation? Amos, one of the oldest books in the Bible, says "Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities."
Maybe ignorance is the only thing that confers entitlement, and power is just unwitting responsibility; the I Ching - claimed to be the oldest book in the world - says "to rule is to serve." No man (or nation) is an island; those who claim to be an end in themselves - still have to change the baby's diapers, or pay for its college. No one wishes to live as an island. For the sake of argument, let's say God chose a small group of people, around 0.2% of the world population, to be an example, a light unto the nations. Would they have an obligation to the other 99.8%, or would they be justified in disregarding the vast majority's interests? Would this be an awesome responsibility, or a blank check to infinity? The question is, how mature are the chosen?
I'm taking a look at the Old Testament in terms of chronology of authorship. I had a fair knowledge of the Bible (by today's standards, scholarly), but I was still under the impression that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, and a long time ago I read that Job was one of the oldest books, I still believed that, and I thought Genesis had been around since, well, the beginning. None of those are true, but what I'm turning up is very interesting in light of what I wrote about the Phoenicians ("Bible" comes from Byblos, the Greek name for the Phoenician port of Gebal). My views at present are as follows (pardon the excessive first-person, but they're my views).
Here's my bio, so you'll know where I'm coming from when I speak of more serious things.
Both of my parents grew up Catholic; but mainly their identity is, they are lifelong Democrats, if Vlad the Impaler ran as a Democrat, they'd vote for him. My dad has been an atheist all his adult life, with no admission of wavering even as he approaches death. He's not very clever, but he's been given the impression that clever people don't believe in God, so he's taking their word for it. My mom doesn't attend church, but she is quite sure - as am I - that there's a God. She doesn't like the Vatican or religious institutions in general, but you'd never convince her there's no God. Way back in the 60s, she was a computer programmer for Hallmark Cards. She has a great deal of what has become rare among American professionals - simple decency. Everyone's mom is exemplary - except Hamlet's - but I wish I'd absorbed some of her character by osmosis, she's not one to pontificate.
At any rate, my first school was a Catholic Montessori school, Linda Vista in the outer suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. It was idyllic, in a wooded valley, the only other visible structure was a nuns' convent up the hill in the trees. And the school was round, it was a perfect circle. Here's what it looks like more recently.
So I got Catholic-school-sans-abuse. There was nothing to complain about, but for some reason my brothers and I were transferred to a nearby secular private school for my fifth and sixth grade. When I was taking entrance exams for junior high schools, it became clear that my parents wanted me to go to a Catholic school that required students to wear ties. This prospect was horrifying, so I begged my parents to let me go to public school, and they relented.
That's it for my formal education, pretty much. Two years of public junior high (we had a class called Critical Thinking! in public school!) and then high school, where I skipped every class I could. Those were the days, you could be absent half the semester and cruise by with a B. I tested well, consistently in the top 1%, but my only ambition was getting high and playing guitar, so I wasn't concerned about going to fancy schools, I just wanted to miss as many classes as possible and still have a halfway decent grade average. I think the majority of "actually smart" people were of this inclination.
Here I must mention LSD. I first tried LSD when I was fifteen, and it made more of an impression on me than anything else has done. The second time, a friend of a friend brought these home from the Grateful Dead concert:
Do you get the joke? The pigs are giving you this stuff. It was 400 micrograms, nothing to sniff at when you're fifteen. I didn't know that. Well, my friends were supposed to come pick me up, so I took a tab and waited for them. And they never showed up. And I had to spend the whole night by myself, in my room, with my (then hostile) dad downstairs. At one point he was yelling at me, floating in the air from side to side, spouting unintelligible gibberish. I couldn't understand a word he was saying.
I survived, and signed up for more. By the time I was nineteen, I was putting the stuff on paper myself, 50,000 hits at a time. That's only five grams, pound for pound it's got to be the most valuable stuff on the planet. It even raises eschatological questions - if such a tiny amount can have such a profound effect, was this part of the plan? A late addition? A can of Coke has something like 30 grams of sugar in it. If Jesus was here, and he took the sugar in a can of Coke and turned it into LSD, he could get 300,000 people pretty high, or 150,000 really high.