In the last couple of days I have been told countless times that I am arrogant. What is arrogance? And does it have any uses at all?
The dictionary says “arrogance – overbearing pride evidenced by a superior manner toward inferiors”. I must admit that I was feeling a bit stuck and that is a feeling that I don’t like in particular. I have a need to know that goes way beyond intellectual curiosity. For me, this need to know everything, most importantly myself goes beyond hunger… Is an elemental need. I don’t say it should be the same for everyone. I just say that that’s how it is for me. Not liking this feeling of being stuck without an answer, I went into the search for an answer. Am I arrogant? And what exactly is perceived as arrogance? Does it have any uses? I’m good at research. I’m very good at it. But what I am even better at is finding answers within myself, so I went on the journey of finding it as I know best. I meditated. I sat down in a quiet place, at an hour when everything was still within and without. Lit a candle, for whatever reason I find it easier to focus with a candle. And I took many calming breaths. More so as I knew that whatever answers I find, chances are that I will be affected by them one way or another.
What did i find? Oh well, to begin with, i do have a very healthy dose of arrogance. Yes, i do feel superior to others. Does not sound pleasant, but that’s who i am. Why do i have this feeling of superiority? Oh well, because i am proud of myself. Very proud of myself. I even give myself pats on the back for the things i achieved that matter to me. Why do i feel so proud of myself? Because i worked damn hard for everything i have, from possessions to culture and education. Because nothing came on a platter as much as i would have liked, and in order to be who i am, i have made sacrifices… The one i sacrificed the most was my ego.
That sounds like a contradiction, isn’t it? How could have i sacrificed my ego but still be arrogant? To begin with, i had to accept that i know nothing. Again, something that i don’t really like doing. My ego tells me that i know everything and some. But in order to reach a point of being proud of myself, i had to accept that no matter how much i try, there will be countless things i will know nothing about, For example quantum physics. Oh well, my ego tells me that if i really try, i can come up with couple of sentences to describe this type of physics. By sheer chance, those sentences might be even accurate. But the reality is that i have no idea about physics. And not only the quantum one. My brain had no interest in it, therefore i am totally uneducated in that area. Stings. A lot. I pride myself through my culture. But i know nothing. So, i can either go and research it to the point where i have an understanding of it, or i can just leave it at i don’t know. Me, being me, most likely i will go and research it in depth, until i know some. And that requests that i put a lot of effort and time into it. For me, that time and effort are well used. If i go past the ego that tells me i know everything, i can actually admit that i know nothing and do something constructive about knowing it. And because i have to put so much effort into that and sacrificed not only my ego, but my pleasures as well, i am proud of myself. I gave up an hour of gossiping with friends for one hour of making a little bit more light into the dark cavern that is my brain. And for that, i am very proud of myself. Even more so when i can look myself in the eyes and tell myself :”Alex, the more you know, the less you know. and you know nothing while you know everything”. That asks for courage.
Why is accepting courage? Because i don’t like accepting something that tells me that i am not as good as i want to be. I mean, i want to think of myself as smart, cultured, well educated, wise. I don’t like to say that i know nothing because first of all it denies all the things i worked so hard to know. But first of all saying that i know nothing, accepting this terrible blow to my ego, leaves me room for improvement. So the one hour i give up, becomes two.
And this brings me to my favorite parts about arrogance. I am proud of myself because i make the effort and because i worked hard to improve myself and because i know a whole lot of teensy-winsy things about a whole bunch of things. Now, arrogance comes into it when i put all the effort, make all the sacrifices in order to know (in my case) and others not only that refuse to put the effort into it, but expect everything nicely delivered in their lap. And i am arrogant because i do openly admit that i am better then them. I am not perfect and are other people that know much more then i do, about much more things. But i make an effort and i simply don’t get it why others refuse to make it.
The opposite of arrogance s humbleness which is defined as “humbleness – the state of being humble and unimportant”. I have a very healthy dose of humbleness as well. It goes hand in hand with arrogance at me, like the other side of the coin. I want to be feel superior and I’m certainly happy with being proud of myself. But if i want to stay as such (proud, superior), i need to admit to myself that i have a lot of space for improvement. That admission is my humbleness. What i don’t see any point in doing, though, is to say that i am dumb when i know for a fact that i am not. Or to say that i am ugly when i am not. For me, that is not being humble. For me, that is committing a crime against myself by not respecting myself.
Why do we need to respect ourselves? Let see. An example that came into my head while i was meditating, that combined self respect with arrogance and humbleness was the following.
Over the millenniums of our civilasation, people, scientists of a kind or another, made discoveries. Lets take for example, the wheel. Someone, very wise, obserrved that if you take a round stone and push it on the ground it moves smoothly and with quite a bit of speed. He, or she, took that information and created the first stone wheel. What that did was to create wonders for agriculture. Some year later, another person thought that that wheel could be improved. That was arrogance because the person would have thought of himself as being more smart then the others. If that person had a humbelness complex, would have thought that he/she is not important enough to tell other people how to make changes. On the other hand, if that person had enough sef respect to admit that he/she is important and smart enough, would have gone and told his fellow tribesmen that he can make a better wheel. The head of the trbe would have looked at this person and thought that is insanity. But with the self respect, that person started to work hard to create this new way of having a better wheel. After a while, he ended up with a much better wheel. He could be very proud of both the result and the effort. And he or she, was superior to his fellow men because he invented something. Therefore, that person was arrogant.
Whitout enough arrogance of thinking that a difference can be made, we would still have a stone wheel. And so on. we ca take everything and recognize the same blue print for it.
Why would i choose to put myself down by being practicing humbleness when i can make a difference into my own life by being arrogant? Why should i not respect the effort i put into everything? What benefit would that have for me or for the society i live in? Nix. Nada. Nothing. Putting myself down will achieve only into being another unhappy person, and there are plenty of those. There is no need for me to add one more to that group. And chances are that because i put myself down by practicing a fake humbleness that tells me i am not important enough, i will not even start doing something. I will condemn myself to a life where nothing will ever be achieved or improved. That is unhealthy for me and all the ones around me. On the other hand, if i practice the real humbleness – i am good, i am nearly perfect and i can always improve- i will feel nothing but encouraged to start putting the effort into something. Putting that effort into something, will result in me being proud of myself, putting even more effort into it and ending up being superior, which is a good place to be. And that i arrogance. And it is healthy. Yeap, there are others more superior then me, but that will not stop me. Why should i build a two levels building if i can build a hundred levels building?
Anyway, this are the ramblings of my brain during meditation.
So yeah, i am humble enough to admit that i can be better, and arrogant enough to know that if i put the effort into it, i am better.