Original Thought · Self Improvement

Arrogant

Over the past month, I have been accused of being arrogant on at least four occasions. The accusers didn’t say I was arrogant but that what I was saying was arrogant. According to Meriam Webster’s definition of arrogant;

1 : exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one’s own worth or importance often by an overbearing manner an arrogant official
2 : showing an offensive attitude of superiority : proceeding from or characterized by arrogance an arrogant reply

I concede that what I said was controversial and worded in a way as to provoke debate but the only dog I have in the race is my opinion. I didn’t exaggerate or express superiority in my position even knowing that the people I was talking with held, a strong polar position. Am I responsible for how my views make you feel about yours? Can I express a differing proposition and allow you to express yours without delving into accusations of assumptive presumption?

If I state, as I did, that “I have easily and comfortably moved from an agnostic to an atheist”, which carries with it a challenge to understand am I pretentious? In these cases, I am sure that if I had said ” I am a follower of Christ”, these individuals may have seen pious sensibility rather than arrogance. Are superiority and inferiority built into differing opinions? I recognize that I see confidence in some leaders, who I share some agreement, while other people that I know look for high-handed pompousness. If I disagree with a policy, I can view the politician as mean-spirited while a supporter sees practicality.
Are my monikers and labels just laziness and laxness? Do I choose mean-spirited for its impact? Should pompous, haughty, proud, insolent, overbearing and arrogant be saved for circumstances that warrant their definition? Have I resorted to a logical fallacy when I create a straw man by invoking a fascist or pervert label when the words or behavior that I am critical of is neither? Did I get a taste of my own exaggerated medicine?
When I make a comparison between two things that share some characteristics, I need to be careful that the analogy only stretches to the common ground. When I am tempted to make a point by extending a ‘guilt-by-association’ inference I need to step back onside. I hold some strong views on equity, social justice and economy that are shared by people that I find detestable. Does that mean that I am detestable too?

Are the phenomena new or have we been shortcutting and caricaturing for centuries? My sense of awareness around the behavior is heightened, and I would like to blame it on the models we see from world leaders in government, business, and charity. But I am not sure that is a valid assessment. I have found examples of biting political satire from the 15th Century, so maybe this can’t be blamed on President Trump, Prime Minister May, Kim Jong-un, Silvio Berlusconi or Robert Mugabe.

Changing how speechwriters, editors, journalists, and pundits choose to describe ‘the other’ is outside my span of control. I can take everything with a pinch of salt, and I can consider how I choose my descriptors and match my intent to my words. That still leaves me a lot of latitudes and obviously, I can ignore the stated intent and be rancorous and obnoxious, but maybe this will force me to acknowledge my intent and accept responsibility. As in many things that I think and write about, this is easy to say and harder to do.

I keep learning, adapting, improving, faltering and getting excited, disappointed, confused but it id the only way I know I am alive.

B

Self Improvement

Contradictions

Contradictions can be the spice of life. When I meet someone who believes something that I hold dear and acts in a way that resonates with me, I am surprised when we don’t agree about everything. If I hold one value that you hold, do you expect that we will be in sync on most things? As an environmentalists and feminist I am attracted to folks who display some of the same tendencies but have been shocked to then discover that they are anti-something that I also believe. I have, in the past let these contradictions, as I saw them, allow me to cast judgement. I have been quick to dismiss and quicker to challenge. But I have been slow to listen and even slower to let go of my self ascribed moral superiority.

contradictions
Begin a discussion with a stranger or acquaintance with a political question or comment (this subject has been floating around the past two weeks like the aroma from a fresh skunk carcass and will probably reek for the next six months). I have found general agreement on the candidates and the platforms (mostly negative and distrustful) but if we delve into the nest of specifics, things can get testy. Kicking that fire ant’s nest will result in some surprising bites but if you stay in the moment of the discussion, you can learn and teach a lot. The contradictions are as much perspective as opinion and learning something from where someone else is standing is challenging and expansive.
I so often come back to the idea that I need to be curious to understand not curious to gather information so I can win an argument. If I can wonder about something that I instinctively disagree with and ask questions for clarity and context maybe what was a contradiction can become a variance or a different path to the same destination.

Make Today Remarkable, by embracing a couple of contradictions,

B

Uncategorized

Most Everything Must Change

I know it sounds like a hyperbole but unless I/we begin with the premise  that all our ideas, all our opinions, all our actions (collective and individual), and all our truths need to be open to examination, we are doomed to  the curse of complacency.

I can go through my day, my week, my year cocksure that what I  see as truth is what everyone should see. Ten years ago my sister gave me a birthday gift; a stone coaster that was engraved with “Everyone is entitled to my opinion.” It was humorous, ironic, and accurate. I am opinionated and vocal but I can also be single minded.  I can go through months without examining a position or premise that just gets stronger as I plow ahead. Gradually, gradually, gradually, suddenly I am convinced that my way is the only way.

In the best circumstances, I am awakened in the night, often at 3:37 am, with the question ” why am I so sure that I am right?” When I don’t ignore the voice, I get the opportunity to re examine my thesis or action in a different light. Everything has an odd perspective in the middle of the night. Insight sometimes comes from the reflection. Confirmation of the direction but not the tactics arises. Tweaks to the communication show up. I am shocked by a horrible realization that I am misguided and need to begin again from a different place. There is a momentary disruption in my pursuit of meaning but if I don’t surrender to my ego and push ahead regardless there is always a new powerful conviction for me to be energized by.

Take the time to examine your most strongly held views and habits. Listen to the middle of the night voice. Seek out a different perspective through research, debate, reflection and writing. Be willing to see/hear alternatives and act on them.