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15.1 We have talked much now of your special love for others, but what of the specialness you desire for yourself? Do you not see how intricately linked these two desires are? The desire to give and receive specialness is the driving desire of your life, and the world you see but reflects this desire. Love’s opposite would not exist but for your invitation of it. All hate, guilt, shame, and envy are but the result of your creation of an opposite to love through specialness. All the maladies of the current time as well as those of history would give way to love without the interference of all that would make special. You think issues of survival rule the world—and so they do, but they would not if it were not for your need to be special. Transportation would be transportation rather than a status symbol. Without a desire for specialness, a person would have no need for status at all. Beauty would be what it is and not what products would make it. Without a desire for specialness, a person would have no need for products at all. Wealth would be the happy state of everyone, for without specialness to feed, there would be neither want nor hunger. Without a desire for specialness there would be no war, for there would be no reason to break the peace. No land would be considered more sacred to some than others, no resources withheld, no people deemed subservient.
15.2 What harm is there in specialness? Only all the harm you see within the world.
15.3 While you desire specialness for yourself, your true Self will remain hidden and unknown, and since this is a Course that seeks to reveal your true identity, specialness must be seen for what it is so that you will desire it no longer. You can have specialness or your true Self, but never both. The desire for specialness is what calls your little self into being. This is the self that is easily wounded, the self that takes on grievances and refuses to give them up, the self that is prone to pettiness and bitterness, resentment and deception. Be truthful as you examine yourself and you will see that this is so.
15.4 It is more difficult to see that this desire for specialness does not stop with what would bring misery to your own mind and heart. Perhaps the leader of some impoverished country brings misery to others with his desire for specialness, but not you. Yes, taken on a grand scale, you can see that this desire can wreak havoc; but still you would not believe that your own desire for specialness or to make another special could make a difference to many—or possibly even to anyone. You just want to love your mate and children, your parents or your friends, and would be quite content to have them think you special and to make them special to you. Out in the wider world you think you are anonymous and so are they. If within the small sphere of those they love they cannot be made to feel special—and you along with them—then what is the point of being here at all? For this is indeed the point you have made of your life.
15.5 And so within this small sphere you do what is necessary to maintain your specialness and that of the others within it. Depending on your culture what is necessary may mean few things, or many and different things for each one. From this sphere of influence comes your notions of success, your ideas of what is necessary to be good, your notions of what it means to treat others well. You would not be special to this one if you did not look a certain way, and you would not be special to that one if you did not earn a certain amount of money. You would not be special if you did not give this one certain gifts and opportunities, nor would you fulfill your responsibility of making this one special if you did not do so. To make one small change in this culture is difficult to impossible, because if you were to go your own way and choose your own look, lifestyle, or attitude, you might risk being seen as special within this group, and your choices might affect your ability to make others feel special in the way in which they have become accustomed to your doing so.
15.6 How many rest within this sphere of influence? Twenty, fifty, one hundred? And how many times is this multiplied by each of them? And yet this is but a fraction of who your specialness influences. In truth, your specialness affects everyone.
15.7 Your desire for specialness makes of you a slave to others and others to you. It diminishes your freedom, and for no end. For what others think of you does not make you special, nor does what you think or do for others make them special. All notions of popularity, success, and competition begin here. All notions of loyalty as well.
15.8 For now we come upon a linchpin in your plan for specialness—one of great necessity to overcome if you are to reach the learning goal this Course has set. Loyalty stems from faith, and where you set your faith is as much a determiner of your perception as is your concept of separation. All change seems to question your loyalty to others and all choices are made with this loyalty in mind. Loyalty stems here from your faith in fear and all from which you need protection. To belong to a loyal group, a family or community of supporters, is seen as necessary for your safety. While many of you do not have this, you strive for it, and its attainment has been the cause of much suffering in your world. This banding together for support against fear simply makes fear real, and the seeming cause for loyalty essential.
15.9 Your concept of loyalty is what makes it difficult for you to entertain withdrawing your effort to manifest the specialness of others and yourself. Making special seems to be a responsibility you have undertaken, and a refusal to make special an act of disloyalty. What’s more, when all is said and done, you are loyal not only to your group but to humanity itself. Despite the many ills that have made you and those you love suffer, to call into question humanity’s right to specialness seems the ultimate act of disloyalty to your own kind. To even think that you could change and be unlike others of your kind, you would call an act of treachery. To give your allegiance to your Father and to the learning goals this Course has set is but an act of treason upon the world as you know it.
15.10 And so it is. And so must your faith and loyalty be placed in something new, something worthy of your diligence and something that will not leave behind your brothers and your sisters to a life of suffering and of sin.
15.11 All suffering and sin comes from specialness, and so it is but specialness you must leave behind. And there is a way to do so, a way that will not harm any of those you love even while betraying all they would hold dear. But which would you rather betray? The truth or illusion? You cannot be loyal to both, and herein lies your problem. For at the turning point you look back and see one other you cannot betray, and one other whose special treatment of yourself you cannot live without or abandon hope of receiving. And so you choose illusion over truth and betray all that you are and the hope your brother has placed in you as savior of the world.
15.12 You who still fantasize that you can have it both ways, give up your fantasy and realize that real choice lies before you. No, this is not an easy choice, or it would have been chosen long ago and saved much suffering and put an end to hell. But it also is not a difficult choice, nor one that is in truth yours alone to make. This choice cannot be made without your brother and is indeed your brother’s holy choice, as well as his birthright and your own. You only need be open to the place that no specialness can enter, and bid your brother choose for you. For in his choice you join with him and with your Father. In this choice lies one united will for glory that knows neither specialness nor separation. In this choice lies life eternal.
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