Arrogance is a trait that I have never understood. What I mean is that I have difficulty understanding how someone can be arrogant and how they can justify their hubris intellectually in a large and realistic context. Arrogance is the manifestation of pride. And pride is the problem.
We all deal with pride to one degree or another. In my case, I have too many failures to let pride linger long enough to morph into arrogance.
Pride and arrogance are a lifestyle with some people, but only an occasional blip on the screen of life for others, like when you make the perfect omelet.
Look at our glorious and egocentric leader who only brushes up against humility briefly on the golf course when he misses a putt then blames Bush for moving the hole.
Given his history, Al Sharpton has little reason to be proud. But I got a kick out of Al recently as he took the stage responding to the Ferguson riots. He’s lost a ton of weight, which makes his head look disproportionately large. I’ve done a lot of ocean fishing and Sharpton reminded me of a Cabazon, which is a bottom feeder named Cabazon for its huge head and small body.
Arrogant Al, after being anointed by the administration, strode slowly and majestically to the microphone. His back was straight as an arrow, his head up in perfect alignment with his spine. It looked a little overplayed, but I took this to be a cautionary measure to maintain his center of gravity. If that head got a little off center, the man would immediately tip over and fall off the stage.
I worked my way through college at a variety of jobs, but I made pretty good money playing in small combos at fancy country clubs. I’m going to describe an incident that is a graphic example of a fall from pride to humility.
I was playing a gig at the Palo Alto Hills Country Club when it happened. As I was playing, I spotted the most beautiful women in the room, which was a talent I had in those days. She was elegant, gorgeous, and dripping with expensive jewelry. She reeked of class and was well aware of her beauty. I fell in love instantly and turned my trumpet into a love machine, projecting a sensual ballad in her direction. A slow glance at me was all it took for me to forget what I was playing.
I watched her virtually glide across the large dance floor on her way to the ladies room and waited patiently for her return. When she reentered her kingdom, all eyes seemed to be on her and she knew it. This was her night. She was the queen. But then I saw it! It was horrifying! Ghastly.
There was at least ten feet of toilet paper stuck to the heel of her right shoe. As she walked, this obscene trail of toilet paper chased her in grotesque jerks, followed by a float, then another jerk, a float, a jerk, a float. What an incongruity. I closed my eyes and continued playing, but I couldn’t look anymore. My fantasy had exploded.
That was an example of pride going before the fall. It was also a reminder to me that at base we are all just human beings crawling around like insects on a huge dirt clod flying through space.
We have no justification for considering ourselves better than anyone else. Money, degrees, social status, athletic prowess, and whatever superficial robes of pride we wrap ourselves in mean very little. We came from dust and we will return to dust. All skeletons look alike. Life reminds us of this fact now and then.
The great thinker, C. S. Lewis emphasized the fact that pride is at the base of all sin. If you don’t like the word “sin” use your own equivalent, but think about it. I’ve written that the basis of virtually every problem we have as a culture is moral ambiguity. If you analyze it, pride is a major factor in that moral deficit.
So when you see a beautiful movie actress strutting in front of the cameras at the Oscars, just picture the camera zooming in on ten feet of toilet paper caught on her shoe. That will level the playing field.