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Arrogance... and its negative effects

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An empirical exposé on the damaging effects of arrogance on society

(5th edition - Dec 2008) by A.O. Kime
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The arrogant sheepherder

Of the many bad habits humans are known for having, arrogance should rank among the worst. It may only seem impolite behavior and therefore relatively harmless, but underneath can lie trouble… especially if a leader is arrogant. While seemingly only a few people act arrogantly, but since arrogance exists at all, it could be considered a human trait, at least potentially. Other than arrogance being "a feeling or an impression of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or presumptuous claims", some might also consider it dysfunctional and/or a mental illness.

Still, something seems missing... perhaps a fresh perspective will yield something new. To begin with, let’s see how the ancients might have tried to make sense of arrogance and why it occurs.

In his daily travels, be it in passing the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the Acropolis in Athens or in sight of the Caucasus, early man would have noticed arrogance exists primarily within those of money and power. However, in knowing it wasn't exclusive to that group, since he also knew of a few arrogant sheepherders, oxen drivers and blacksmiths, he would have reasoned the potential, as if latent and awaiting some catalyst, is there within all men.

As it is now, as it surely was then, our ancestors would have looked upon power and money as the primary trumpeter which beckoned arrogance from within. Yet, going unexplained is the poor but nonetheless arrogant sheepherder... therefore our ancient friend would have concluded there must be other reasons. Mystified about this looming tendency, which never spawned anything good, led him to conclude the disgusting air of arrogance can only be fanned by evil. Still, he would have thought, it deserved further investigation.

However, just in case Mother Nature might offer some clues, her being usually forthcoming, commonly known for dropping hints at every corner... except for this matter she isn't any help. He quickly realizes all things within nature have a neutral judicial value except as man equates them. As far as Mother Nature is concerned, the conduct of animals is neither sinful or saintly. It's a dead end.

Therefore, due to her passiveness, Mother Nature must be excused from this matter. After all, passiveness is incapable of passing judgment... so, it stands to reason, she couldn't know of justice. And, certainly, the umbrella of justice is what covers good and evil questions. In the end, of course, in as much as 'Mother Nature' merely represents the 'workings of nature', moreover a humanly-created term, the matter of good and evil belongs to the creator.

So, in order to discover how the creator views arrogance, for many ancients this would have meant soul searching... where the light illuminating God's point-of-view is often found. However, for a few, connecting to divine intelligence is where to find the most enlightened answers. More-so than today, the old ways were about self-discovery.

Contrarily, as if man became no longer capable of thinking for himself, beliefs for the last 2,000 years have been institutionally underwritten... promoted, in effect. So, lest the errant concepts of science remain immortal, and in many cases those of religions, there is a long-standing need for some thinking outside the box.

Fortunately, since men are men whether it's a world of donkey carts or jet aircraft... the empirical thought process of yesteryear still works. An empirical frame-of-mind is unfettered and thus capable of arriving at more insightful conclusions. Of course, thinking in inherently-derived terms means going down to the bare bones. Conversely, the scientific mind thinks in shallower terms... after all, it ignores the metaphysical.

Arrogance and the would-be king

So, with neither power or money, what can possibly cause a sheepherder to become arrogant? Well, many people would know it's this... indigent for his lot in life, his impoverished situation, to the world he would be expressing his rebelliousness. He is making a veiled proclamation that he is, you see, a would-be king. So it is, the oxen driver is a would-be prince and the blacksmith is no less than the next Alexander the Great.

Yet, not everyone can be kings and princes… only a few. Still, for thousands it could be, or once was, within reach. Within the mix of self-adulation lies the belief one is worthy of such lofty positions... however true that might be. These are unattainable pipe-dreams for most, but for some, a chance exists. If fortunes varied in the slightest, those who hold these titles would be different. By quirks of fate, are destinies altered. At any rate, some cannot wait to express their arrogance which often goes with the territory. They would be the most predisposed... as if a steamer with a faulty relief valve.

We also know we're not hard-wired to conduct ourselves in a certain way, like animals, but instead are capable of making choices. While a peacock may seem arrogant, in the animal kingdom that would have a neutral value whether a peacock actually was or not… it would be neither sinful or saintly. Arrogance within humans is classified only one way (by humans) however, and it ain’t saintly or neutral. But hold on… isn’t sin a relative matter? Arrogance isn’t exactly murder, rape, pillage or plunder… nor even illegal. So what is the problem then, if any?

Before we get to that, let’s look at a few more curiosities. Some humans are seemingly predisposed to be arrogant but only under the right conditions, or, more specifically, given the chance to express it without fear of retaliation. Perhaps retaliation is too strong a word if only to be shunned but retaliation nonetheless. Also, many don’t act arrogantly because they believe it a revealing character flaw. While some might say it demonstrates a superiority complex, others might believe it is actually due to an inferiority complex… as a way to compensate.

While arrogance may seem innocuous, perhaps seen as simply a person’s inability to mask their pride (vanity), but within such people lurks trouble. It isn’t just because an arrogant person might ruin your day either. Of course, the degree of 'trouble' depends on who is arrogant, their position in society. While surely dysfunctional, the next signpost in this foggy matter seems to say "mental illness".

Yet, still further down the road (within this fog), the words on a signpost appear to read: "warning - spiritual disease - evil".

Negativity of arrogance

We all know it... the real downside of arrogance is negativity. It fosters a negative-minded culture, not to mention the animosity it breeds. So, what is a negative-minded culture? Oh, not much, just one built atop hate and disrespect… nothing good can come from one. It also invariably leads to poor decision making. An arrogant man is rarely capable of making good decisions of a competitive nature. He does, however, create an air of superiority, sometimes one of invincibility. He becomes almost unapproachable. Such arrogance is intimidating to many people because of its power to stifle the air... purposeful of course to 'acquire and maintain'. In a sense, it is a tactic of a bully.

At any rate, tactically and strategically, many of their decisions fail because they often misjudge the capabilities of the opposition. Their arrogant-powered superiority complex automatically leads them to believe their intelligence is vastly superior. An arrogant man cannot imagine an intellectual equal, it is the natural consequence. Call it denial. A worse consequence is that arrogance in a leader invariably leads to megalomania.

Due to the animosity it breeds and the negative-minded culture it creates… it is the most damaging of all 'mental aberrations' because of the lasting effects, largely irreversible. Arrogance, the trademark of the bureaucratic landscape almost everywhere, of the aristocratic coterie in particular, creates subcultures. Subcultures are created through alienation and nobody alienates better than the arrogant. It is the subcultures within societies which eventually destroy that society and with it, the nation. Throughout history, almost every country which collapsed upon itself was because of this otherwise 'seemingly harmless' arrogance.

It is largely irreversible because few societies, if any, have been able to peacefully reincorporate their subcultures once they're effectively lost. The need to reincorporate the disenfranchised by force, to quell demonstrations and uprisings, indicates decades of incompetent leadership… assuredly arrogant.

Due to bureaucratic and institutional arrogance and the trickle down effects from the resulting treachery, an overhaul surely awaits America or, for that matter, any 'on-the-brink' bankrupt state. After all, in the last 50 years treasonous officials have allowed, or precipitated, the dismantling of all that which made America great. It began with the dismantling of the family farm and the outsourcing of labor to achieve globalization. Many basic industries no longer exist in America and our trade deficient is now in the stratosphere. And, with the overly domineering laws and regulations, justice is only a shadow of its previous self... reduced now to tokenism.

Tokenism showed its ugly face in the feigned 'rescue' of family farms in the 1990s (very few farmers benefited) and currently little or nothing is actually being done about saving homes from foreclosure (as advertised).

There is an underlying reason for all the negatives occurring simultaneously today... and taking center stage of late is the financial meltdown. Such destruction, as if a campaign, could not have been engineered any better... not by Genghis Khan, not by Hannibal and not by Napoleon. And, pitifully, almost every single government bureaucracy, institution and transnational corporation seems to have a hand.

Not an Irish famine

The looming peril for America is not about locusts, a Viking invasion or an Irish-style potato famine but instead one of arrogant snakes with a diet of money, power and inalienable rights. It should be crystal clear by now, if it wasn't before, many (or most) legislators are traitors and unfit to be called Americans. Invariably, they 'sell-out'.

The treatment of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is likely what Americans can expect for themselves on this same old path and the result of an arrogant establishment. Incredibly, as a result of Section 1004 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2006, torturers are now protected by Sovereign Immunity. Further, the Bush administration has put itself, and thus America, on a collision course with the entire world. On the tip of this Titanic iceberg sits NAFTA, globalization, Iraq and Bush's opposition to the International Criminal Court.

While the countless variables make countries hard to compare, almost every one has had a period in their history when they somewhat resembled Nazi Germany... such as England under King Edward, Russia under Stalin and France under Louis XVI. The primary (and most conspicuous) commonality was arrogance. More recently it was exemplified by the advertised night of 'shock and awe'... Bush's purposeful 'impressive display of power' preceding the invasion of Iraq. That it should be 'titled' and advertised beforehand was arrogance.

It doesn't matter the Bush administration will soon be gone, the points remain.

As stated earlier, arrogant men always underestimate the opposition and our military in Iraq and Afghanistan has been outfoxed far too often. Throughout history, few, if any, have witnessed such worse-run campaigns. The only explanation is arrogance. The very nature of arrogance renders it incapable of combating guerrilla warfare.

More-so worrisome is the continued effect on subcultures… specifically the drug-infested ones. The longer the disillusioned stay disillusioned the less chance they can be reincorporated... many now already 'lost' to society. In blocks they'll fall too, like east LA. Of course, crime-ridden neighborhoods in other cities deemed by many as out-of-control (effectively lawless) are testimony as well.

Also growing in numbers are the more recently disenfranchised… like farmers, lumberjacks and whoever lost their jobs to cheap overseas labor. The number of drug addicts along with the unskilled and unemployable are sure to increase and, with it, crime… but that’s still not the worst of it.

The collapse of ethics

The worst is the collapse of ethics... and it all began with arrogant leaders, officials and legislators, of a low moral and ethical fiber, without honor. As inevitable as weeds from rain, it's never long before this attitude filters into the rest of society, its institutions, businesses and military. The collapse of our financial institutions is further testimony, being a natural and predicable consequence.

Whether or not pretence and hypocrisy are children of arrogance is uncertain but they likely live in the same neighborhood. After all, like arrogance, they're both dysfunctional demeanors of a self-serving nature. Daily we see the corporate world and institutions embrace them as if their very existence depended. An advertisement of a cowboy on horseback, for example, once a typical American scene commonly held as representing the ethical and moral fiber of America, is inappropriate for use by these hypocrites and pretenders. A farmer in the field and grandma in her garden are likewise inappropriate. These scenes aren't an accurate reflection of the corporate world... and they certainly don't reflect the cold-blooded attitude of a bank or insurance company.

While unethical practices aren't exclusive to arrogant people, nor is dishonesty, but the dysfunctional environment they create is what causes the breakdown of society. We've all seen it... it only takes one in a crowd to change its mood. Daily exposed are employees and now, soldiers in the military. It is inevitable the whole of society will become 'ethically bankrupt'.

There are holdouts of course; 'true' Americans who refuse to take part. They're the same people who would view any undermining cultural activity with contempt, and its propagators their adversary... which includes environmental movements bent on destroying livelihoods (ranchers, lumberjacks, etc.). Likewise, despite the good they do, bleeding hearts and their demands on society have downsides as well. Most social programs are monetarily unsustainable and a financial threat to our nation... assuming our financial system isn't already ruined.

In professional circles, instead of arrogance being blamed... it's the consequences. Also, in the opinion of far too many, it’s just a matter of ethics, as if standing alone, that some men are ethical and some aren’t. It's just the surface explanation. Nor has it been associated with dishonesty and greed... only loosely has it been associated with megalomania. No matter how you slice it however, all these things are related. They all grow from the same bush and little can be gained by only evaluating its thorns. An unethical person is not just that, there is an underlying reason.

Specifically however, arrogance is the attitude which breeds maleficent conduct, conjures it up. If an arrogant person doesn't care about ruining someone's day, then it demonstrates they have no respect for justice either. Furthermore, the larger the stage, the more arrogant the arrogant become. It feeds upon itself. Arrogance is not only the main ingredient in megalomania but its benefactor.

While countries continually find unbelievably wicked men to lead them, with more waiting in line, the science of psychology has clearly failed to serve mankind. As it is, nothing at all denies these men a bully pulpit. Therefore it should be known… arrogance is bad news.

Arrogance is just one face of evil

Yet, arrogance isn’t the cause alone nor the underlying cause of today's ills. It's just one face of evil... but a wily chameleon hard to recognize. While evil is only what humans believe it to be, although clearly evident in most cases, uncertainties can exist... over morality issues for example. The point is... in gray areas such things can easily escape our attention and understanding.

While America’s decline can be traceable to other causes, albeit 'government' is effectively the scriptwriter and choreographer, one needs understand the role arrogance plays, and it isn’t passive nor merely a idiosyncrasy, nor should it be considered innocuous. Its obfuscating ability says it's the face (of evil) to be reckoned with.

Perhaps in the opinion of some I’ve stretched the effects of arrogance too far... but since arrogance is spiritually embedded and therefore a 'deep matter', its reach isn't fully appreciated. A matter stretched into the metaphysical arena makes it more difficult to explain as well. After all, we're talking about a demeanor, an almost indefinable 'air'. However, to look at it somewhat analogically, imagine arrogance being effectively the opposite of humbleness. That's easy, right? That's because it's inherently felt. It should be no mystery why such likes and dislikes are inherently embedded. By design, they serve a great purpose.

While 'responsible' arrogant people wouldn't steal from petty cash or mug an old lady, or commit any such crime, there is a connection between arrogance and honesty as well. Most thieves, while perhaps not openly arrogant, have an attitude which is. A thief is wrapped-up in the belief they are deserving of another’s property… and it takes arrogance to believe it. This 'version' is not openly apparent and thus another mask of arrogance.

There are also 'collaborator' masks. Being part of the establishment, academia and the media only cite 'sub-causes' rather than the underlying causes. This equates to 'sub-truths' which, in turn, equates to alienation. In both Vietnam and Iraq, they won't say it was arrogant predation which mistakenly thought it could outsmart a simple people. The defeat of 'designs' is inevitable because external (imposed) designs never last. It is impossible to align otherwise unaligned wills.

Of course, partially at fault are the schools of psychology (the trainers)... their baseless dogmas rivaling those from the Middle Ages.

For comparative purposes, we might try to envision a classic example of arrogance but probably one doesn't exist. It can be expressed in different ways and one's dominate demeanor and/or talents is what often draws the attention... causing one to overlook their arrogance. Or, we might confuse it with just rudeness. We might also think it merely vanity or ostentatiousness... all being, because we can't describe them better, razor-thin differences (to humans).

Further obfuscating the matter, although gone unnoticed until a reader recently pointed it out, different cultures have differing views of arrogance. As an example, he cited the French. This is likely true and in this case, no surprise. The French language is uniquely creative and famous for its descriptive powers... 'déjà vu' is an example of that gone un-captured by other languages.

He also pointed out an interesting quote... "it's only arrogance if you're wrong" (anonymous). While perhaps applicable in some circumstances but, if effectively and generally true, to state something in error would seem more-so the 'innocent side' of arrogance. If that's true, then it is to view arrogance as coming in degrees, having shades or hues. Perhaps though, we could call it 'unintended' arrogance since being wrong is surely unintended. However, since being right doesn't have the power to erase a demeanor, it dispels that anonymous notion.

Meanwhile, as descriptions fall short and as opinions miss their mark, at least we'll always know arrogance when we see it. Leastwise, 'how' we see it.

While we may know the triggers which send men in the wrong direction (i.e., bad upbringing), the underlying reason and its modus operandi is still shrouded in the fog of the metaphysical. Religions haven't clarified this much either... in effect blaming all things bad on evil spirits. While they're right, such vagueness isn't much help in trying to carve up the matter into chewable pieces. Science isn't any help either. After all, science refuses to acknowledge evil, or even 'life', as an existent... therefore its conclusions are made indigestible.

While the job of putting a face on evil is still undone, hopefully in trying to 'unwrap' arrogance has shed some new light.

A.O. Kime

Last modified: 03/06/16