The Problem of Arrogance

Arrogance is a swaggering, brutal word. It suggests someone with a loud voice, an overbearing manner and probably a florid complexion into the bargain. Unfortunately, arrogance can come in rather more humdrum form — not so much overweening self-confidence as complete disregard of others, an almost risible inability to register what others are thinking or feeling. From time to time I delve into the spam folder on this blog and find comments spluttering expletives and self-righteous denunciations, so bound up in the writer’s own views as to be incapable of taking on board anyone else’s. I suspect these writers have very few friends if they converse like that offline!

The problem with arrogance is that it makes claims for itself at the expense of others. It is selfish; and because it is selfish, it can be destructive. It is suspicious of others’ motives, grudging of others’ success. The contempt it shows is simply a mark of its being turned in on itself. The best image I can think of is not the lip curled into a snarl but the clenched fist, ready to pound a table or another’s nose, the hand that will neither give nor receive. Maybe that is why the prophet Isaiah said that when the Messiah came, he would uncurl the clenched fist; why, as evening comes, we sing the Magnificat, with its bright promise that the arrogant and powerful are cast down and the humble raised up.

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4 thoughts on “The Problem of Arrogance”

  1. Well said. All too many of us can on occasion be intolerant, and will refuse to listen to others, believing that we are right and that everyone else is wrong.

    I know that I’ve been guilty of that in the past, making assumptions that I hold the only legitimate view on a particular topic. I hope that I’ve overcome that trait, and now think carefully before I post on any subject.

    One benefit of learning to listen is the subtle changes that can be wrought in your own heart and mind, the chief one being of charity towards others, whose right to express a view we can respect, without necessarily agreeing with them, That is the kernel of reasoned debate, rather than a illogical war of words and spite which so many internet forums descend too.

    These are the types of places that I choose to avoid, there’s enough conflict in the world, without my contributing to more.

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