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  • Andre Lamartin

On Arrogance

A man is only made less by his own contempt for others. Tragically inebriated by a false sense of entitlement and superiority, the arrogant fail to understand that every teacher should also remain a student, and that every student may also have something to teach. Humility is a foreign language the arrogant neither speak nor would ever care to learn, frequently misunderstood as a sign of weakness that only invites wanton abuse. Living in an age where so many leaders embrace arrogance as a political asset, not a social liability, one should not easily dismiss its destructive power. Arrogance leaves its indelible mark on everything it touches, and the damage done to oneself and others is usually as understated as misunderstood.

Arrogance stands in the way of our personal growth as human beings because it prevents us from acknowledging our mistakes, precludes us from being self-aware of our manifold limitations, and impedes us from seeking an education that might otherwise challenge false preconceived notions and unwarranted beliefs. The arrogant exalt their self-professed attributes well beyond the limits of reality, avoiding personal accountability for questionable choices made simply by shifting blame to others. Blind to their own limitations, the arrogant fail to grasp the constraints of their personal fallibility, rarely reassessing their stance before the world. Only ignorance glorifies arrogance by perceiving a debilitating hindrance to be a valuable asset, much to the consternation of society as a whole.

In the political realm, arrogance sows division by obstructing and polarizing regular democratic dialogue. Arrogant leaders impart their most histrionic followers with a false notion of superiority vis-à-vis other social groups, hampering dialogue to the point of violence. Once the arrogant hijack political discourse at the expense of the truth, uncontested lies take center stage wreaking havoc, as surely they have. Arrogance is usually married to mendacity because both are always ready to trample the truth, especially if necessary to safeguard vested interests. In this so-called post-truth age, what one man states as fact, another dismisses as an opinion, and there is no common ground in between to guarantee the basic civility of the ensuing debate. It is a sad commentary that some people can only make friends by encouraging others not to have any.

The greatest irony of all is that many of the political leaders who epitomize arrogance are the same ones who purport to speak for the supposedly Christian segments of the population, a religion that exalts humility. In Luke 9:48, Christ himself teaches that “Whoever is the least among you, is the greatest.” Humility before God is an acknowledgement of his divine primacy; humility before man is a sign of respect for the Gospel itself. Humility instructs every teacher to concurrently remain a student because learning is a never-ending process in life. As those who are humble at heart so cheerfully understand: there is always more to learn in life than originally planned. Leaders who purport to represent members of the Christian faith should only carry themselves accordingly, lest something be tragically wrong with themselves or their constituency. What a pity that between what is said and done usually lies the abyss of human hypocrisy.

A blessing it would be if more people took these words seriously, recognizing the educational value of humility and the destructive power of arrogance. Perhaps then they would demonstrate greater common courtesy and humility both in their daily lives and social online interaction. While the internet revolutionized modern life by allowing the vast dissemination of information, fueling democratic debates and immeasurably enriching our lives, the arrogant prefer to wallow in meaningless acrimony and unwarranted verbal abuse. It is hard to understand the point of offending a stranger who might otherwise be inclined to become a friend or a personal acquaintance, if only treated with the proper consideration and humility. The problem about having fun at another man's expense is that the final laugh may not be yours.

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