I am beginning to notice a couple of annoying personality traits I have:
- I have a tendency to be prideful, arrogant, controlling, and overly confident in my own work.
- I react with strong negativity towards others who are prideful, arrogant, controlling, or overly confident in their own work.
Reconciling the two is obviously difficult. I know that part of the solution comes in humbling myself and opening myself to others’ ideas… But when that happens, how do I protect myself from those who don’t do the same?
A lot of my life has been about recognizing that because everyone is imperfect and makes mistakes, we should try to find the best solutions to protect ourselves from our own mistakes so that we can live in relative peace with one another, even when we disagree over what is wrong or right. Recently, I have been feeling more like there is a more obvious standard of right and wrong that can be derived from observation and logic. I recognize the slippery slope that puts me on, and I’m not sure if this change was brought about by an unchecked hardening of my own ego, or by “maturing” or something else completely.
While this definitely has implications in the spheres of politics and culture, I think that the place where it really hits home for me is in the spiritual realm. I have directly witnessed a pretty wide range of spiritual opinions, from “All roads lead to heaven,” to “there is no such thing as good or evil or God,” to “[Monotheistic religion] is the only true religion, all others are false and evil because they aren’t ours, and the world will only be at peace once it is a global theocracy under our control.”
Part of me is troubled by the apparent majority of people who adopt their religious, political, or cultural perspective because of their circumstances rather than a conscious logical evaluation of each alternative. I go to Christian churches, but I don’t know if I would had I been born in, say, Indonesia. Statistically, most people tend to vote for the same parties that their parents voted for. This doesn’t tell us which (or if) one is “wrong” or “right,” but people on either side fully believe in their decisions, and thus rifts are caused between people of different ideals – even though they would likely change their tune had they been born into different circumstances.
This might be my ego talking, so please treat it with the obligatory grain of salt, but I would like to think that I’ve done things a bit differently. Maybe it’s just been because I am the product of multiple divorced households with vastly different perspectives, but I think I’ve put a lot more thought into my choices where most just go in agreement with their peers and predecessors. But even in this, I am unsure of myself – surely, my decisions are still influenced by “circumstance over logic” at an undetectable, subconscious level.
It hurts most when I see people with whom I have something in common, but were not there because of an educated decision. It is saddening to realize that people are most influenced by misinformation and personality smears in politics, or to see churchgoers who improperly use faith as an excuse to abandon the biblically commanded logic and questioning that protects them from false prophets and heretical teachings. While these people happen to have some views in common with me, there is really nothing different between them and the people they disagree with.
And amongst all of this, I am still plagued by the nagging feeling that I am being far too arrogant to think that I am above all of this – that I myself am guilty of the very same things I accuse others of doing. Part of me says, “Just worry about yourself and let others do the same,” and another part says, “Just because you’re being arrogant doesn’t mean you aren’t right!”
In all of this, my faith is the one thing that I do not doubt. I believe without doubt that God will not lead me astray, and that he is in control while we are all so messed up. I’m not sure of much beyond that, but I at least have the confidence that whatever reaction I have to these big questions, much wiser hands than my own are on the wheel.