Continuing on the topic of pride, Tony writes about arrogance.
I think everyone has a mental picture of the arrogant person. You know what I mean, haughty, sneering, belittling everyone else as he (or she) ries to take control of every situation, supremely confident in their own unassailable superiority. Perhaps you can even think of a few characters who best illustrate arrogance: King Nebuchadnezzar (I love that name!) ruling with a rod of iron; Goliath sneering down his rather large nose at the frail little boy in front of him; George W Bush saving the world … the list could go on.
That is the obvious kind of arrogance. It is pretty easy to spot, well, in others at least. Perhaps it is much harder to spot in ourselves? But there is a much more subtle form of arrogance, a sort “humble arrogance” if that is not an oxymoron.This type is far harder to detect, and thus far harder to be rid of. This subtle arrogance whispers rather than roars and insinuates rather than storms.
I have found it sometimes (far more often than I like) lurking hungrily at the back of my thoughts, just waiting for its opportunity to pounce. Someone, Mr X, let us say, says something rather silly in front of me. Immediately, my Judgement Resistance Program kicks into action: Poor fellow – he didn’t notice what he was saying. I’m sure he didn’t mean it to come out that way. He’s really quite a nice guy deep down inside… But then, the trouble begins:
You noticed how stupid that was, didn’t you. Of course – that’s why you’re making excuses for him. Naturally, it is obvious that if you noticed and he didn’t, then you must be much smarter than him, eh? That’s nice to know. Very nice. Wish a few other people knew it to. Why can’t they see and appreciate my humility? Why don’t they listen to me more? Isn’t it so obvious that the person who can immediately see through such stupidity is worth listening to? What’s wrong with them? Am I the only one who can see this? HELLO!
I’d rather not try to write any more of that voice. I find it rather disturbing; perhaps because it is a little too close to home? We don’t need to be outwardly arrogant in order to be arrogant. In some ways, subtle arrogance is much worse than blatant arrogance. At least blatant arrogance is out there for everyone to see. There is no hypocrisy involved, and there is always the chance that one day, someone will point out my arrogance to me so clearly that I will wake up to myself and do something to fix it. But with subtle arrogance, what you see is most certainly not what you get. There is a humble modest facade covering a stinking tomb of pride. And so long as it remains hidden, it is very hard to repent from it. Sin is always most comfortable in the dark.
Yet even the subtle arrogance will sometimes manifest itself indirectly in public. Three years later, and we are standing around talking about an upcoming wedding. “Who do you think will give the speech at the reception?” someone asks. “It would have to be Mr X, wouldn’t it? He’s the best public speaker I know by far!” Before I know it, my tongue has taken on a life of its own and I find myself blurting out, “Mr X? That little twerp!?”
Oops. What was it that Jesus said? “A good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit”. Or what about, “For there is nothing that is hidden that shall not be made manifest.” With either one of them, I’m in trouble!
How much nicer instead to ba able to sincerely apply the words of St Paul to Titus: “To the pure, all things are pure”