Arrogance in our society has reached almost narcissistic levels. Some people may consider humility in others or even themselves to be a trait of weakness and blind submission. Furthermore, a few people may consider pride and arrogance as a sign of “taking charge” of one’s own life, where they are the best and that everyone else is like servant peasants, bowing down to them and serving their every inclination and want. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary website defines arrogance as:
Arrogance (and I am not talking about having a “healthy ego” here) angers me so much because it a.) devalues others b.) Inhibits learning and c.) Ultimately destroys relationships.
How arrogance manifests itself:
- Thinking that you are better than another person or a group of people.–This is commonly seen in prejudice. For instance, some people think that certain races are inferior to theirs, and so treat these other people as objects or annoyances, kind of how you would treat a fly or other insect. Sad indeed. However, this can also be manifested in our attitude towards another, especially people we don’t like or annoy us.
- Thinking that you are too good to receive help from another--This is a common mentality of people who need help, but want to do it themselves, pull yourself up by the bootstraps, so to speak. This can be harmful because it will prevent you from getting the help you need, and you will most likely compound your problems and suffering unnecessarily than if you accepted the needed help in the first place.
- Thinking that you know it all— This occurs when someone flaunts their knowledge on a subject or subjects and is unwilling to accept correction or further wisdom from another. For instance, if a professor at a college flaunts his or her knowledge on religion and thinks his or her ideas are the only right ones with little or no evidence to back it up. He or she is unwilling to accept or even listen to different ideas of his or her students or even other colleagues.
Why Arrogance is So Harmful (and why it angers me so much!)
- Arrogance devalues people.— The type of arrogance that thinks that you are better than another does this the most, but the other types do as well. Arrogance is a barrier to, in Jefferson’s Bethke words, “[Treat] people [as] neighbors to be loved, not commodities to be used.” Arrogance is a barrier because it sees people as less than, and even, in some cases, as less than human, a pervasive and dangerous lie indeed! This is why with arrogant pride, hatred is likely to form. If you see someone else as less than you, you will be more likely treat them with utter contempt and humiliation. What I’ve begun to realize more and more is that other people, even ones that are different and/or people that I don’t get along with as well, are not really worse people than me. Sure, I may be better than them at certain things, but they also may be better than me at certain other things too.
- Arrogance inhibits learning.– All of the types of arrogance that I mentioned inhibit learning. If you think that you are better than someone else, it will prevent you from learning anything meaningful or new from them. This is because, in the arrogant mentality, you don’t think you need to learn from the person to whom you feel superior. You think you know better than them, so learning wouldn’t be necessary. When you think you know more about a subject than anyone else, you are preventing yourself from growing in knowledge about the subject. For instance, if I thought I was such a good writer (I don’t, by the way.) that I didn’t need input from other writers about what I wrote, then my writing would never improve, much to my own disadvantage. When we think we can do something without help when we clearly need it, then we may drown in our own problems and also inhibit learning, because we don’t know a different way to get out of our predicament other than what we already know and find ourselves.
- Arrogance destroys relationships.–Ultimately, if we are arrogant long enough without humbling ourselves, it will start destroying our relationships. I believe this is one of the root causes of things like the divorce of a marriage and other broken or strained relationships in which may find ourselves. Arrogance says that one is so good, that he or she is never wrong and never needs to apologize for mistakes. Arrogance thinks one is perfect, and everyone else is beneath them. That mentality destroys relationships because it does not allow for healing and accurate self-reflection. The truth is everyone makes mistakes, and no human being (except, in my opinion, Jesus Christ) was or is ever so perfect that they don’t need to humble themselves at least some of the time. Yes, humility is difficult for a lot of people, but it is a vital part of cultivating relationships successfully. One way you can show humility is to apologize to the person you offended when you have done something wrong, and if necessary, make appropriate amends. Arrogance also closes us off to certain people, especially if we think we are better than them, in the ways I described earlier and prevents you from wanting to get to know, love, and understand them better. For instance, there were certain people at work with whom I had trouble getting along, but I found that when I actually and intentionally humbled myself to them and tried to learn from them, that I actually had a lot in common with said people, and now we get along great!
This is why arrogance angers me so much. It is a plague in modern-day society and needs to be countered with humility and love. Arrogance will not go away with hatred or more arrogance. Only humility and love will. This is why, starting with me, I strive to look in the mirror, so to speak, more, and make sure that I am not looking down on anyone, either with my attitude, words, or actions.