I got into it with a dear old friend this week. It was not pretty and I am not proud of my overreaction. He made a statement that I have it in for rich people. I am Irish and I am stupid. I got on a tear about arrogance. You can figure out the rest. The whole process has stuck in my craw over these last several days.
By definition arrogance is thinking that you are better than most if not all of the world. You look down on people. You want to exercise your superiority which in my mind is a prelude to insecurity but that is another story. You really don’t care about the rest of the world. It’s all about you. It has nothing to do with being rich or poor. You see, arrogance is all around us.
I really locked horns with Archbishop Chaput when he was here in Denver. He is now in Philadelphia and no doubt happy he is far away from me. I told him I really had a problem with priests being holier than thou. Ironic huh? In a pastoral way he tried to tell me that priests were in their own realm and had a special calling from God. I in no uncertain terms told him we all put our pants on the same way and we are all in this together. Kind of like what Francis is saying now. I really do have have to call him soon to see if he is in line with Rome’s teaching on this one. Was he exercising his superiority?
Of course there is the arrogance of power. Whether you hold the purse strings or the finger on the trigger you have swag. It is a false hubris but a mighty one. The most obvious correlation is to the very rich. But that is far too easy. They can be anyone or anything they want. When you live in an ivory tower the world always looks the same….below you. It doesn’t let the rest of us off the hook.
Think about a fully armed SWAT member or a gang member with a 357 Magnum. You can be in your perch on top of an armored vehicle or a rooftop. You’ve got power. Just walk down the street on a dark night in your local hood. The cops on one side and a Crypt on the other. You are talking about severe disdain for your fellow man on either side of the barrel.
How about the gender thing? I am a guy. I’m big. I’m strong and I can kick the crap out of you a la Ray Rice. I can also berate you and make you feel like dirt. I am lord and master of the mansion. Hunter gatherer and all that BS. This is beyond sinister and yet it goes on in the confines of trailers as well as mansions every day. You don’t think that is arrogant?
I could go on and on but it touches everywhere. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, judges. All have their little fiefdoms over which they hold court and wield power because of their implied expertise. Don’t you dare question me. Do you know who I am? Yeah I do, so back off.
Even in casual settings. A few weeks ago I got in the Foretees Lottery for a Saturday morning tee time at our club. After the drawing I was scheduled to play at 8:30 AM with a +3, a 2 and a 4 handicap. That sounded like fun. They were young guys and I was looking forward to getting to know them. Lo and behold they bailed out Friday afternoon for greener pastures at another time. Why stoop to play with a lowly 14? I was left to fend for myself and wound up not playing. Sounded on the surface as a little arrogant to me. Maybe they had heard of my golf swing?
Coincidental with this type of thinking is the appellation of genius or super star to just about anybody. Genius is a strong term connoting an exceptional natural capacity of intellect as it relates to science, art music etc. Webster’s words, not mine. Einstein? I can do that. DaVinci. Easy peasy. Oprah? Nick Sabine? Bill Clinton? Maybe we are on different wave lengths. But as long as we adulate success, personality and beauty and consider them pinnacles to be sought after then maybe we should be subservient.Being looked down upon? Why not? I think a genius comes along once or twice in a lifetime as opposed to once or twice a week. But then again that is just me and therein lies the rub.
From the top of the world here I could get a big head. I could revel in the fact that with all my pondering I have it all figured out. Maybe I can put words down on paper but I shouldn’t delude myself into thinking I am real smart. I truly am like every one of you. I am a schmuck trying to make my way in the world and in some way hope to make it a better place.
I am passionate about my causes. I try to convince people that my way is better or they should be looking at the world around them and at least scratch below the surface. Just think! I really do try to listen but I guess if you feel strongly enough about something you ought to defend it to the death.
Uh oh! I guess that means I am arrogant. Thinking sometimes I know better and yes maybe at times feeling like I have a little more going on upstairs. Guilty as charged. What it really comes down to is the difference between that so called passion and being a jerk about it. For some of you I am truly am sorry if I have crossed the line. Hopefully my malady is not terminal. My heart really is in the right place.
Ted The Great
I have just returned from a luncheon where the guest speaker was Marcus Luttrell, former Navy Seal and author of the Lone Survivor, about a raid gone very bad in Afghanistan. He was the only one of four to make it back. He told the story with incredible candor and poignancy.You could have heard a pin drop. Before the festivities my good friend John Horan aka The Body Snatcher made it possible for me to attend a private meeting with Marcus. There were the parents of two of the three killed in action. The small suite was also fortified with three other Seals currently on active duty and just returning from deployment. Wasn’t sure if i should feel secure or scared to death. As I looked around the room I realized they can all be as arrogant as they want. They were certainly heads and shoulders above me…and probably most of you.