I can’t tell you how many times I’ve acted in ridiculous, immature, even aggressive fashion when making a stand for positive, high-minded ideals. It’s soooo tempting to scorch another’s ignorant ire with a blast of my own passionate fire (I attribute that fire, even if incorrectly, to the 25% Spanish in my blood).
We all know such duplicitous behavior rarely plays out well. In fact, it usually just backfires by empowering the very thing my lofty ideals are working to vanquish. It also speaks to something obviously unsettled within me.
Only my own arrogance can have a problem with someone else’s arrogance. Only my own judgmental nature can get all hissied up over someone else’s judgments.
If I can’t live at least leaning in towards my ideals, what good are they?
If I’m being judgmental, arrogant and antagonistic while making a stand for being open-minded, loving, and tolerant … well, I’m just playing poster-child for the world I’m railing against.
I’m certainly not making a credible stand for anything positive and high-minded when I’m telling a friend or my dad or a particular politician on TV just how flawed and ridiculous their ideas are … even if they ARE flawed and ridiculous.
I’m also NOT in that moment creating the world I want to live in.
I’m actually just contributing one more crazy arrogant fool to the world: me.
I’m not suggesting we don’t step up and be impassioned activists speaking out against the obvious injustices we witness. I AM suggesting that if we drop our own enlightened arrogance, we just might be a lot more effective impassioned activists. Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. – all were iconic activist leaders at the center of massive social change who embraced their so-called adversaries and demonstrated their own high ideals by taking powerful, inspired actions actually in alignment with those ideals.
This blog exploration, however, is more about creating thriving personal relationships than ending colonialism (though the differences may be moot).
It fascinates me that I still think I can “out-arrogant” arrogance … though don’t we all? Aren’t we all in some way enlightened fools?
We think we know so much when none of us really have a clue what’s going on here. We’re floating through unfathomably vast space on a giant wet rock, zipping around an exploding ball of gas, coming from nowhere on our way to seemingly nowhere. … and we think we can actually know anything with complete certainty??
Well, we can certainly know what is personally true for us in any given moment. But imposing our personal truths on the outside world is a precarious practice. When I get all high-horsey on some precious certainty of mine that someone disagrees with, I may as well slather myself in butter and scooch my greasy butt onto the slippery slope that shoots me right into the marshmallow belly of giant arrogant enlightened fool!!
I know. We get scared that if our idea, belief, position, perspective etc. doesn’t win the day, the world will stop spinning, darkness will descend, flowers will no longer bloom, and the battle for humanity’s soul will be lost.
But it’s not true. The world has already proven resilient enough to keep spinning just fine when we actually demonstrate the ideals we so passionately condone, even when that means giving up attacking those we don’t. And humanity’s soul … well, our evolution depends far more on each of us opening up to deeper experiences of love than it does on me blasting away at another’s ignorance.
Fortunately, I’m learning to recognize and even apologize when my enlightened arrogance gets the better of me. A quick, sincere apology after a moment of blatant hypocrisy often goes much farther towards actually demonstrating what I was trying to say than whatever intellectual argument I was making.
An apology also works wonders to create deeper intimacy, trust, and connection with the people I love, and that’s a whole lot juicier than successfully vanquishing their ideas and winning admiration for my own (which doesn’t happen with arrogant force, anyway).
In the end, it’s actually among the most delicious experiences in the world to simply let people believe whatever they want to believe, even if it just seems like negative malarkey to me.
Where in your life are you acting like an “arrogant enlightened fool”? What are you afraid might happen if you give up that act? What positive consequences might result if you did?
A former Captain in the US Air Force, Bryan Reeves is a life breakthrough coach and transformational projects entrepreneur who’s worked alongside world-renowned luminaries such as the Dalai Lama’s Oracle of Tibet, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Byron Katie, Don Miguel Ruiz, Marianne Williamson, Michael Beckwith and many more. Discover Bryan at ManagingTheMagic.com and on Twitter (@bryishere).