May 19th, 2007 07:35 EST
Why does our society seem to shun greatness? Why is the pursuit or embracing or admittance of our own excellence treated with fear, shame and guilt? Why do we so easily and quickly malign and undermine the empowerment of ourselves by dismissing and degrading its legitimacy? Many people are pleased, amused and comforted to see other people fail or mess up or lose. Somehow, this makes many people feel better about themselves. But that’s pathetic; just another form of lowering others to raise yourself-- even if that ultimately makes you both a more equalized ordinary.
If ever someone compares themselves to Jesus Christ, even inferentially or indirectly, witnesses express shock and horror, and the would-be Jesus demurs and mollifies and apologizes himself in humbling embarrassment by eschewing such ennobling allegory.
Apparently, identification or exemplification with Jesus is considered improper, offensive, pretentious, conceited, and blasphemous. Despite Christianity (ironically or disingenuously) urging us to be Christ-like and follow Jesus’ example. In the New Testament and the Gnostic Gospels, Jesus tells that we-- anyone and everyone-- could be like him, that the potential is present within and available to each of us.
And yet, society is actually averse to this idea. Like we don’t really want to be great, don‘t want to have to live up to any high standards. The amazing and wondrous frighten most people, the power and responsibility of it.
We are routinely conditioned to desire and accept mediocrity, we celebrate and encourage being ordinary and average and “normal”. We don’t want to be special or different or unique. We are taught to hide or downplay our greatness, our knowledge, our talents… or else be labeled a geek or freak or egotistic or show-off.
If we are good at what we do and know it, we are not allowed to have bragging rights, or be comfortable with and proud of our excellence. We are not supposed to openly admit or exhibit or relish our extraordinary abilities and exceptional skills. To do so is perceived as arrogant, crass and rude. For some reason, there is a misguided sense of egalitarianism in which we can’t or shouldn’t be better than anyone else. Unless in competition like sports or American Idle (not a typo), where interestingly there are always losers.
Because we might make someone else feel bad, hurt their feelings, insult or embarrass them.
Paraphrasing philosopher Ayn Rand: great people do not look at the starry night sky or the expanse of oceans and feel small, they rightfully feel happily and proudly magnificent. I know Nietzsche would agree, because I do.
In DC comics, although Batman is greatly respected and admired by his Justice League associates, many of them think of him as arrogant because he is remarkably awesome at what he does and doesn’t care who knows… and they occasionally chastise him for it. As if acknowledging, appreciating and shamelessly displaying your excellence is wrong or bad. Why should it be condemned?
We promote humility over pride-- even if the humility is false or inappropriate or undeserved. Humility is regarded as commendable, honorable and admirable, while ego is deemed absolutely contemptuous and disgraceful and insolent. Even if that ego is earned. Being self-assured and confident and brazen is often misconstrued as arrogance. Don’t we have a right to be “arrogant” if we have a right to be? Isn’t it right to be arrogant if we can demonstratably back it up?