I noticed the disruptive force of popularity on me recently and I wondered if that may not be the root to all evil? My ego seems to be most stoked when I enjoy critical acclaim and recognition from others, but given a minute to reflect on the source of such acclaim, I’m quickly reminded about its fickleness. Not the acclaim, but the source. I’ve often contemplated whether or not maintaining a consciously humble disposition is possible, and this further convinces me that it’s not.
The moment we’re aware of our humility, it plants seeds of arrogance because the knowledge of such a state being aspired to by many is reason to believe that we’re better than them for having acquired it. So the pursuit of humility remains elusive. I find myself once again debating each point I write and back tracking to remove my thoughts because it fails at the tests of logic. The logic that drove me to want to write this post suggests that if I remind myself of the basis on which people polarise towards the popular, it will deny me the reason to take comfort in their praise.
We’re all weak. We’re all equally weak. What sets us apart is our ability to disguise those weaknesses as strengths. Where we’re weak in our need for recognition and affirmation, we’re strong in our ability to garner such attention. The avenues we choose to pursue as noble endeavours to garner that attention is what is displayed as a passion that others are drawn towards, all the while believing that we’re inspired, when in fact we’re satisfying our need to be recognised amongst those we admire.
It seems life is an endless circle of vicious cycles. Even the cycle of life has its own viciousness that forces us to collaborate and collude in artful ways that distracts us from the cycle and convinces us that what we pursue is in fact purpose. I’m starting to wonder if it’s purpose at all that drives us, but instead a need to be distracted from reality? Like they say, a man sees the world too clearly from the mountain. It takes a brave man to embrace the reality that becomes evident in such a moment, while the rest of us paint pretexts and contexts that serve to convince us that we are in fact significant.
Everything that I witness around me points to the innate desire to be significant. Even the most ascetic amongst us seeks the significance in the eyes of the one they adore or worship, while those that surrender the goal of acquiring such significance are prone to self destruct, sometimes completely. The effort to reach into their soul and convince them that their significance directly inspires our own becomes ever more daunting because if we fail to convince them, we risk stepping on the same slippery slope of self abasement from which we attempted to rescue them. Another vicious cycle.
I guess the true reality is that the ego is only as arrogant as the observer. The one who witnesses the arrogance in others without seeing their weaknesses that underlie such repugnant behaviour are in fact the ones that are least in touch with their own weaknesses, or their own insecurities. When we believe that we’re better than that, we look condescendingly on those who are arrogant, but the moment we realise the collective weakness we share that gives rise to such outward displays of fear, we find ourselves compelled to view them with empathy instead.