Before the fall
Technology has made the world look as if it could fit in the palm of our hands. In a couple of minutes, one can converse with three people on three different continents, or video conference with them all at the same time. It continues to amaze me how simple – and incredibly inexpensive – it is to communicate with others around the globe!
Coincidentally, there also seems to be an underlying sentiment spreading nearly as quickly as the current pandemic. The more access we have to information and interaction with other cultures and nations, the more divisive and insensitive many are becoming towards those who appear different from them. As nations become increasingly dependent on a global economy, the care and concern for basic human dignities and rights for those providing a majority of the labor to drive that engine, is continually decreasing with little recourse or protection for them.
Is it too late to change the downward spiral of animosity? Has that point of no return already been breached and there is little hope for recovery? I would like to believe this is not the case for humanity, but what is the remedy? How do we begin to steer the ship away from the ever-looming point of no return?
One common misconception for fixing some of these concerns is pointing the finger at someone or something else. But blame never solves or resolves anything. While finding the cause of the problem can inspire a solution, attributing fault to someone is not the mark of quality leadership. Shifting blame or avoiding responsibility is a tactic of those who only want to appear to show strength. But they are actually concealing is there unwillingness to look into the mirror and ask that person what changes or corrections need to be made.
Are there any great leaders throughout human history who were lauded for the ability to find fault in others? What religious, political, or even business leaders garnered a stellar reputation by blaming others?
Those who changed the world thirsted for knowledge, sought the truth, and did not hesitate to adjust their own thinking when they realized it was incorrect. Currently, some people in authority must believe only they are right or it will show a weakness or flaw in their leadership. Ironically, this kind of thinking will never drive them the correct answer nor be an effective leader.
There is a difference in wanting to be right and always being right. In wanting to be right, the goal is to search until solutions are found. With always being right, there is no room for discussion. The only choice is to accept what they believe or face dire consequences. When someone is locked in this arrogant way of thinking, it is next to impossible to get them to understand how destructive it can be.
Arrogance is a false pride begging to be overinflated. At its core, arrogance does not have true confidence and needs to be loud to cover up its underlying insecurities and shortcomings. True pride doesn’t need a podium to proclaim itself while arrogance insists on it.
What may seem contradictory yet is the biggest influence on arrogance is shame.
When most people define shame, they think of words like unworthy, pitiful, or undeserving. Arrogance, superiority, and conceit are seemingly contradictory and entirely different emotional responses. It would appear to be farfetched to believe self-importance would be caused by shame. However, it has to do with the way we initially learned to process our shameful feelings.
Most of us grow up associating shame with feelings of self-doubt. However, some learn to react to their shame by overcompensating and trying harder, thinking their determination may win them validation from those who shamed them. If their efforts don’t work and those feelings of self-doubt continue, they may try to silence that hurt with an unhealthy and inflated sense of self.
If their exaggerated sense of self focuses too much on suppressing shame, arrogance takes root and buries their unresolved issues. The hard work never heals those past difficulties and the validation they get from others can feed self-entitlement and privilege. Their accomplishments whitewash the shame and the more success they achieve, the more it entombs them in a deep sense of always being right. And, when you always believe you’re right, how do you know when you are ever wrong?
To discover their own arrogance, they must first overcome their own way of thinking. A system which they themselves created to mask their true feelings, has now transformed into a method which corrupts them. It is next to impossible. Arrogance, by design, cannot admit being wrong. So how does one overcome this two-fisted predicament?
Short of a magical awakening, the main approach for someone to finally concede to this issue is when they lose everything. Whatever they held dear must all tragically slip through their fingers and out of their grasp. Once an awareness of being wrong becomes overwhelmingly evident, then they have a chance at changing their thinking.
It doesn’t have to be this way, but the longer arrogance remains an integral part of their reasoning, the more difficult it will be to recognize.
A new freedom
We don’t need to wait for world leaders to admit their arrogance; some will never become aware and realize a change is needed. However, we each have our own part to contribute to making this world a better place by examining ourselves and seeing if arrogance plays a part in our own judgements. Do we dismiss those who views differ from ours or are from other cultures, religions, or races?
This is simply a choice. We can choose to always be right and contribute to the continuing global chaos, or we can choose to seek the truth and be open to others who disagree with and differ from us.
My thanks to Sergey Pesterev on Unsplash for the great picture and I look forward to your comments. If you or someone you know want to find out more about shame, please go to the contact portion on this website or you can email me at: email@example.com