Tuesday, February 05, 2002

Arrogance vs. Self Esteem
I'm totally taken with Mike Sanders invitation to think about self esteem, self control, self appraisal and arrogance.... and having fun and living purposefully.

Earlier this week, he cited an article in the NY Times Magazine entitled The Trouble with Self Esteem. According to that article:
Last year alone there were three withering studies of self-esteem released in the United States, all of which had the same central message: people with high self-esteem pose a greater threat to those around them than people with low self-esteem and feeling bad about yourself is not the cause of our country's biggest, most expensive social problems.

It seems to me that self esteem is essential to being able to survive in a society that's in the control of madmen. You have to believe in the strength of your own virtues to help you live "purposefully" and even have a little fun. It's when self esteem degenerates into arrogance that you have the threat alluded to in the Times article. And we have no greater example of this than our own Asses of Evil. Michael Moore's rant pretty much documents the current manifestation of that evil arrogance.

So, if you are a truly virtuous person, and you find yourself living in these times in this place, it seems to me that your self-esteem is your precious lifeline to sanity and whatever joy you can find each day. And there's where blogging really helps. I think that it helps all of our self-esteem. We can say "every day, I put my truth out there, and everyday, someone reads my truths." One of the blog stickers (which I haven't gotten around to putting on here yet because I still have figured out how to use my server to put them on) says "I blog, therefore I am." As soon as you have a reason to say -- and believe --" I AM," you have some fuel for your self-esteem.

The people who have given up are the people who feel bad about themselves -- and they usually do so because evily arrogant others have given them the message that "they ARE NOT..." in so many ways and for so long that they have come to believe it. And so they become victims. And arrogant people always seem to blame their victims for the resulting social and economic problems.
Moore's Rant
Take a look at Michael Moore's "Open Letter to the President." It's awfully long, and it's awe-fully packed with enough indictments of the man in question to get him kicked off his soiled throne in a hurry. This letter needs to appear on the front page of every newspaper. But we know it won't, so how about a link on every blog?
More on Choices
Mike Sanders wonders about "the failings of today's generation given all the choices they have in careers and what have you. That might be part of the problem. When we can focus so much on the outside, we tend to avoid thinking about our internal state. What we do and what we have is a less painful focus than who we are."

I am assuming that I, at age 61, am not of "this generation." Actually, I and many of my friends have spent -- and still spend -- a great deal of time looking inside to try to figure out why we do what we do. Or how what we did affected the people around us, including this generation. In our younger days, we didn't have the range of choices that complicate lives today. But we still had external pressures and expectations -- many of the same ones that this generation has. What's different now, I think, is that the external pressures are magnified by the advertising media, which cleverly and convincingly continues to submerge this generation under layers and layers of unrealistic expectations.

What's different about some of us from my generation, though, is that we believed Joseph Campbell when he adivsed us all to "follow your bliss." I took the time and paid a therapist an awful lot of money to figure out what my bliss was. And it wasn't being rich or owning a lot of high-end stuff. And so I tried to teach my kids that competition does not lead to true satisfaction and that having to prove you're better than someone else is not what gives you self-esteem. And, most of all, I encouraged them to figure out what their bliss really was and to follow it. So I have contributed to this generation one ex-actress turned writer, techie, wife, and future mother and one geek, activist, ranter -- well, even I'm not sure how to categorize theonetruebix.

Now, when I look at Mike Sanders list of virtues, I figure they each have more than half of them. And, of course, I have almost all of them. (Does that mean I have high self-esteem or that I'm arrogant?)