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Arrogance vs. Humility

Updated on January 2, 2012
RGraf profile image

Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

What a Day!

Today was just one of those days. Stress from family. Stress from work. Stress from life in general. What I didn’t need was a confrontational moment with someone close to me (no, not the husband this time). It ended well. Cleansing. Humility. Inner-searching. Forgiveness. But what do you take away from such an encounter? Most take away bitterness. Others take away resentment, anger, and torn hearts. But today I walked away from it with deep reflection.

Conflict has been in our lives from the moment Cain slew Abel. It has led to world wars. It has lead to genocide. It has lead to extinction of races. It has just made a day crummy. It has ruined friendships. But where does it all come from? Why do constantly keep conflict in our lives? The cause of many conflicts can be listed in volumes and volumes of books. But in reality you can get to the root of it all. And that would be arrogance.

Our Dear Friend, Arrogance

Arrogance is a very popular topic. That is, while we are pointing it out in others. We just love to point out how arrogant others are. I heard one person going on and on about how arrogant this other guy was and he just couldn’t stand to be around him. What shocked me was that the pot was calling the kettle black. He just couldn’t see the arrogance in himself.

But what is arrogance? Arrogance is feeling better than others. It is noting their faults while you exude the same ones. It is feeling that you stand above others. It can be minor like always feeling that your cooking is better than anyone else’s. It can be major like your skin color makes you more intellectually superior than others. Arrogance permeates our lives. It is the cause of wars (I want what you have and deserve it). It is the reason for failed marriages (I can be hateful and demeaning because I’m better). No matter what the reasons are you can narrow it down right to our dear friend, Arrogance.

Arrogance came out in today’s conflict. One person pointing out someone else’s faults in one sentence while exhibiting those characteristics in the very next one. This happened repeatedly. Now, at that moment I didn’t realize it was arrogance. It seemed more of anger. But then tonight I watched Tuskegee Airmen and began to think deeper. This movie showed how arrogance can destroy men, send them to their deaths, and turn others to be inhumane to others. Watching men of lighter skin speak to and treat the men of darker skin like they were worthless made me angry and sad at the same time. Why did they do it? Arrogance. In their minds they were better. Not realizing that in truth they were showing themselves to be otherwise.

Arrogance is deadly. Not only to others but in the end deadly to our own very souls.

I watched a woman brag about how better her cooking was at every restaurant and every dinner she was invited to. Very quickly people stopped wanting to hang out with her. Her arrogance gave her loneliness and lost her friends. A man can’t help himself walk into your garage and tell you how you are doing it all wrong. He loses friends quickly. A woman will not listen to advise on the new job from others who did those same duties before. She does not need guidance and will make it all better. After her firing, it was discovered that she had lost the company thousands of dollars and seemed to rarely be doing her job. She lost a good paying job and a good reference. A man came through fires of various trials but now refuses to show compassion to others in the same boat he once was in. They should see the same light as him and join him. Friends began to leave him and bitterness became the cancer in his heart.

Arrogance is deadly.

Why are we arrogant? Why do we put ourselves in this position? Why do we feel the need to let arrogance rule our lives? It all depends on the person. Person A could exhibit arrogance because they were always put down as a child and need to feel important. Person B could be arrogant because they need to feel important. Person C could be arrogant because others have lauded their praises and abilities to all.

Arrogance is addictive. Arrogance feels good. After all, because of it we are important. We are good at everything. We are sought after. We are powerful. There is a quote: “Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely.” When the drug of power is given with no control, it leads to death. When the drug of arrogance is let free to roam on a person’s heart and soul, it turns it dark and ugly before ripping everything to shreds.

Doris was eighty years old. She had never been married or raised any children. But she didn’t hesitate to tell everyone how to raise their children and how they should be treated. Arrogance.

Adam was not married and had never had a serious relationship. He constantly was criticizing his friends on how they handled their marriages. Arrogance.

Beverly and her husband are invited to a friend’s house. Every minute a comment was made on how she would have decorated differently, used other ingredients, used different lighting, and so on. Arrogance.

Charles would always ask his friends for help with money and rides. Yet, when they had money problems or car trouble, he was quick to point out how they could have prevented from getting in that position. Arrogance.

Edith was a clean freak. Spring cleaning was every day. When she entered anyone’s house that had small children or worked two jobs, she had to point out every dust-bunny and give housekeeping tips. Arrogance.

We all have degrees of it. Some just more than others. Some have allowed it full reign in their lives and others fight it daily. But what can we do to replace this addictive trait?

But There is Humility

The extreme opposite of arrogance is humility which is rarely discussed and not exactly sought after. It is a sense of wanting to exhort others over yourself. It is a sense of lowering yourself even if you might “deserve” the status for the greater good. It is realizing that no matter how great you might be, there is always someone better.

Humility is not something you are born with. It has to be sought after, desired, and practiced. It is not our first instinct. We want to be right, be first, be important. We don’t want to end the day with someone thinking that we are wrong, didn’t win, or are nobodies.

But humility can be satisfying. Arrogance could keep you up all night wanting more and planning how to get it. Humility gives you the ability to fall asleep and smile at a rainbow. You feel good. You grow as a person. That is why you should seek it. It gives you status and respect that you could never get by always being right and being first.

How do you achieve humility? That would be the short-term most painful part. Have you ever heard the warning of not to ask for patience, because you just might get it? That is because the only way to achieve patience is to go through experiences that test your levels and stretch you to the next one. It is not fun and it is not easy. But when all is said and done you are grateful for going through it.

You achieve humility the same way. You get a dose of humble pie and you have to swallow the nasty tasting stuff. It can be embarrassing. It can be shameful. It can be shocking. It can be hurtful. Getting knocked down a notch or two is not what a logical person wants to happen to them. But it might be the best thing that ever happens to you. When you eat that pie, you see your faults as others do. You see past the “perfection” you thought you had. You see the truth and don’t like it at all. But you begin to realize that the sun does not rise and fall for you. You begin to see that more can be accomplished by stepping back instead of taking over. The mist over the imaginary farce you present to yourself fades away a bit to show you a brighter path. It might take climbing a few boulders or such, but you can go down that path. And as you do, more and more of the mist fades and the sunshine can warm you.

Have you had a humility check lately? If not, it’s about time for one. If you have, my empathy goes out to you and my joy at your growth.


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    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 8 years ago

      RGraf, too much humility might not be very healthy either - self esteem without arrogance is probably what we need to aspire to. Thought provoking hub.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      RGraf - I thnk one of the problems with arrogance is that sense of power kind of kills a personal moral code - it's all about you (well, not you personally, haha) and what you want is right. The old might makes right creedo.

      A little humility makes a happier person anyway. Thanks for the introspective hub.