Friday, February 19, 2010

Arrogance. What a peculiar disease !

I would like to post on the highlighted title. I once heard a man pose this rehetorical question,
" Isn't arrogance the most peculiar of diseases? It makes everyone sick, except for the person who has it." I am posting just after having listened to Tiger Woods speak to his subjects as a king would to his underlings. I would sum up his comments in one single word. Yes, the word is arrogance. The world rushes to hang on his every closely engineered and edited message. Yet how we can percieve him as anything less than a man who has a made himself a billionaire playing a game designed for gentlemen and then displaying anything but gentlemanly behaviour? His name and his demeanor are synonymous with that word, arrogant.

Another man once said, " I cannot hear what you are saying because what you are roars so loudly in my ear." I don't mean to pick on Tiger. He is just one single visit to a lifetime of arrogant people that I have had interaction with.

Success seems to be the mirror opposite of humility. Be it economic, academic, intellectual, physical bearing, athletic ability, circle of friends, influence, prominence, etc. the natural sequel to all the foregoing sadly is arrogance.

We are taught from an early age that we need to realize that we are special. We each have gifts that no one else possesses. I remember when I was in high school I had a little cock in my walk because of the fact that I was a pretty decent athlete. Later on I was successful as an employee of a Fortune 500, worldwide company. I married a pretty girl. We had pretty and smart children. We live in a nice house in the right part of town. My dog is the coolest one around. Now our grandchildren are exceptional in every way possible. I think it is probably healthy to think like that. It gives us cause to get up day in and day out and face the day.

The problem with living in this quixotic fashion is that sometimes we lose balance. The suffering of Haiti is a far removed reality. How about the various African countries besieged by diseases that no longer exist here in America? AIDS, malaria, cholera, measles, for crying out loud. Out of sight and out of mind. It would take a minor degree turn on the circumstantial barometer for us to realize just how spoiled, helpless and, yes, arrogant we for the most part are. There are people in our own land that get up in the morning hungry and lay down at night hungry.

I had an experience many years ago that caused me to reflect. I was on my way to Panama City to give a presentation to a drug and alcohol treatment center. I was to be the speaker to a group of therapists including psychologists and physicians. I thought I was pretty hot stuff to be making such a splash in this highly technical arena of the medical world. I had my little 35 mm projector and notes. I was going to wow them. How cool could I possibly get?

This was perhaps as much as 20 years ago. The summer Olympics were scheduled for Atlanta. As I exited off of interstate 10 I slid under the overpass there. I saw two middle aged men waking from a night spent under that overpass. That caught my eye. I reflected that they could very well be victims of substance abuse. That having led to their homelessness.

After a few miles I saw a state trooper coming towards me, over the hill of SR 20, a two lane, little country road. There was no one else in view either before me or behind me. The trooper indicated that I should stop to speak to him. I was going to be late so I stopped in an irritated frame of mind. The Florida trooper told me to pull off and wait until the Olympic torch passed by. What ?!? I did not have time for this, I was going to be late. However, it is best to do what a law enforcement officer tells you to do. I pulled over and waited for what seemed like an eternity. Soon an entourage consisting of 2 Georgia Highway patrol cars ( BMW's by the way ), a $200,000 Coca Cola exhibit truck and two bicyclists carrying the torch came snailing by me. I could not help but to reflect, " Man, there is something wrong with the way we do things. I just passed two guys who slept under an overpass last night. Here I see a representation of millions of dollars spent to promote the summer Olympics." Try as I may to connect those two dots, I still come up short.

Arrogance will always be a factor in the mix of humanity. I still encounter it in the people I run into on a day to day basis. I have to admit that sometimes I am the culprit. The goal we should have in mind is to always be kindly, patient and humble.

A man I have a great fondness for wrote:

" Humility is not weak, vacillating or servile. Humble and meek properly suggest virtues, not weakness. They suggest a consistent mildness of temper and an absence of wrath and passion. Humility suggests no affectation, no bombastic actions. It is not turbid nor grandiloquent. It is not servile submissiveness. It is not cowed nor frightened. No shadow or the shaking of a leaf terrorizes it. Humility makes no bid for popularity and notoriety; demands no honors. Humility is deity seated on the back of a lowly ass." ( Spencer W. Kimball; Faith precedes the miracle. )

Anyone who has ever played golf with me knows that I am the polar opposite of humility and control. However, I believe, that attaining control in this one thing is that which will ultimately save us. I hope Tiger and everyone else can keep their eyes set on that goal.

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