Incidentally I found this tweet today and I couldn’t think of a more perfect time to have found it. LOL!
“Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility; I chose arrogance.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
Note: I, the writer, identify with Christianity, and use this as the ultimate lens through which my views come.
All I want to do is share some musings from my mind and basically organize my thoughts so that I myself can understand what I believe.
The increasing volume of material about self-love, be they books, articles, tweets or whatever, is beginning to get to me, perhaps specifically because of my own identity. I suspect nearly everything I say henceforth is going to be largely controversial, but bear with me. (Actually, nobody is forcing anybody else to read this, so…)
I fear that all our 21st-century promotion of self-love is turning us into insensitive, callous, narcissistic beasts who are more or less empty and searching for fulfilment in the wrong places. That was a heavy sentence. However, in no way am I encouraging self-hate. That would be silly.
I would like to formally acknowledge that I do indeed believe self-hate is a real and serious problem, entirely worthy of being tackled immediately and necessarily, in all its different forms. Anxiety, self-hatred and especially low self-esteem are not foreign things to me. I honestly believe that I have insulted myself and had more bad thoughts against myself, up to nearly twice the amount that others have had towards me. I know for a fact that there are people who grew up hating their hair, skin, race, facial features, bodies, sexes, sexual orientations and more. I know that there are people who are insecure without makeup, bleach their skin, can’t stand their curly/nappy hair, self-harm, and/or do the strangest things when nobody is looking. And I believe that of course, they deserve to love themselves as much as anyone does.
But if I may put it this way, I don’t see how the solution to a problem could very well be the problem itself. And no, this is not a scenario where the vaccine analogy is applicable. This is more like – when there are parasites in you, the solution is not to replace them with a different kind of parasite.
It bothers me that the responses to a lot of kinds of prejudice on social media/the internet seems to be avalanches of selfies. Something oppressive happens to a minority society? Everyone else somehow starts posting selfies. Something oppressive happens to someone who belongs to a discriminated-against sexual orientation? Suddenly everyone with a queer sexuality starts posting selfies. I don’t…I don’t know. I just…don’t know.
I see a lot of rhetoric circulating – most of which involve taking plenty selfies, putting yourself above everything and everyone else for no-one’s sake but yours, an expensive kind of self-indulgence, and at other times, lots of nothing said in many ways. I think we’re missing the mark.
Treating ourselves as supreme beings in our own lives isn’t healthy – especially when we are wont to fall short so many times. If I were a god, I shouldn’t be so fallible. And, in times when I am genuinely lost and don’t know what to do, I don’t want to think that I should be the only one who knows what to do in my life – because then I would be a serious let-down to myself. I don’t want to turn vain, addicted to mirrors as Narcissus was addicted to reflecting water. I don’t want to have my Instagram or Snapchat overloaded with selfies – a strange attempt to convince myself that I am entirely in love with myself (and perhaps lowkey be seeking validation from others about this).
If I am awesome, I want to be entirely comfortable in the fact that I am awesome, because it is an established fact. It’s not an extraordinary discovery. It’s not something controversial that needs to be proved and proved again. It is a thing which just is. Just like I wouldn’t go around trying to prove to myself from time to time that on most days, there is sunrise and sunset, I don’t think I should have to continuously prove to myself that I am a wonderful creature.
However, in trying to run away from self-absorption, I have found another type of toxicity in the form of prideful “humility” – as well as harmful “humility”; and there’s a reason why humility is in quotation marks.
Christians have quite a reputation for turning holy things into toxic things. If you aren’t careful and, like me, you are a Christian, you might take all the preachings and teachings about selflessness and twist them around into self-negligence, and land yourself right back in a pit of self-loathing. But think about it carefully. If we are commanded by Jesus himself to love our neighbours as ourselves, that cannot possibly be a calling to hate ourselves. And yes, many times, we are admonished not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought (narcissism). But here’s the flipside: prideful humility may be just as harmful.
The call to humility is not equal (AT ALL) to a battle to see who can think of, or speak of themselves more lowly than they ought to. Humility is knowing and accepting your place; neither a place higher than your place nor a place lower than your place. To lie about yourself is not humble. It is prideful.
When you have, for example, done a good job of something, and you insist to yourself that you haven’t – even if you could do better – you are not really being humble. The God we are called to be like takes satisfaction in the work He does, when what He does is good.
Imagine if, during the creation, God created the moon and the stars or whatever, and instead of seeing that “it was good”, He tortured himself with thoughts of, “Oh, what’s this terrible mess? For goodness’ sake, I could do better – after all, I’m God,” and then proceeded to incessantly create and destroy even just light. He’d have never moved on to Day Two of creation, would He? Being satisfied in a good thing is super important.
I believe in righteous arrogance, as is worthy of Children of the Most High God. And we have the right to feel extremely good about ourselves all the time, just because of what and whose we are. Not just who we are, but whose.
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
For each of us, our creation was deliberate; and if you read carefully, our wonder comes from both our physical existence and beyond it; our “inmost being”.
Righteous arrogance means being arrogant enough to claim what you know is true about yourself. And I daresay Jesus had it. I imagine the Pharisees thinking this impudent man had some nerve saying that he, a mere man, and the Father God, were “one”. But…what would have been the point of “humbly” shying away and saying, “Oh, who, me? One with God? No, I couldn’t possibly…” Yeah, that’s nonsense. It would have been no lesson to us, for Jesus not to claim to be what he truly was.
As further examples of righteously arrogant, don’t-give-a-damn kind of Christians, I shall quote two of my favourite song lyrics, from two guys I honestly believe are geniuses in their fields.
“God made me a full-blown genius, what the fuck I need coke for?” – Jon Bellion [Pre-Occupied]
For various reasons, this is one of my absolute favourite songs.
“And if another mother- try to tell you dumb it down, do the Heisman on ‘em. Let ‘em know your mind is elevated and it’s celebrated and no time for clones…” – John Givez [Dumb It Down]
And this is one that I love to remember whenever I am creating art.