Thursday, April 18, 2013

Of Pride and Arrogance

“Don’t expect me to be rising up when the sun rises in the East” 

“The sun does not rise in the East. It is the Earth that rotates” 


From the tone of his voice, I felt for a moment that I had missed out on learning this valuable nugget of information at school. I delved into my mind and found, surprisingly, that this was one of those few bits of knowledge that was still clinging precariously on the slippery slopes of what passed for my brain. 

All of you, I am sure, must have met people like my acquaintance. People to whom every single bit of knowledge seems like a divine revelation exclusively granted to them which they bequeath to you with all the condescension that Moses could have felt in handing down the Ten Commandments. 

To feel proud of what you know is to acknowledge the fact that you are better than you were yesterday. If that pride needs to be bolstered by the assumption that others do not know what you know, then it veers off into arrogance. Arrogance, I have normally found, comes from out of a personality that is so lacking in self-respect that it has to look on the others as being inferior in order to feel worthy of existence. Pride, on the other hand, looks inward for self-respect. 

“I think that this word has been mistyped here” 

“You need to learn to properly spell words” 

When you prima facie presume that the other person knows what you know, you give him the benefit of the doubt and assume extenuating circumstances. This is particularly when you have no reason to know the capabilities of the other person yet. A person secure in his own accomplishments – a person with pride – does not feel the need to put down the other person. It is the arrogant that normally have to assume that the other person is necessarily at fault because it gives them that special glow of being better. In other words, a man of pride assumes the other person to be capable unless proved otherwise; the arrogant man assumes the other person to be incapable and would rather die than be convinced otherwise. 

“Look! We both had the same sort of education. Now I have twenty-four green marbles, sixty-seven yellow ones and even a large red one. What does he have? Two white marbles and a pair of tops” 

Change the numbers; put in cars, houses, stocks whatever for marbles and tops. That, in effect, is the arrogant man’s litany. It does not strike him at all that both of them may not have even been running the same race. 

That, probably, reminds most people of ‘Chatur’ of 3 idiots – the man with the car, bungalow and all and what had ‘Rancho’ achieved? Teaching A-B-C to kids! It does not strike the arrogant man that teaching was probably what the other man wanted to do anyway. And, yes, like Chatur, most arrogant people are weak – it takes a lot of lying to themselves about the inferiority of the others to keep their self-respect going. “Loser” is a word of contempt only in an arrogant man’s dictionary – a man of pride never feels the need to put down anyone else. 

Arrogance comes in many guises. It may show itself at the level of looking on other individuals as inferior. It may show itself as looking down on another gender, people of another community, color or nationality as inferior. The latter is even easier to do – since you can adopt received wisdom from others like you who came before and stick to it as true. 

Pride comes out of who you are and how you have grown as a person. Arrogance relies upon fables about what other people are and resolutely closes its eyes to any evidence to the contrary. 

When you feel a sense of accomplishment when you compare yourself today to what you were yesterday that is Pride and you should embrace it. When you get your self-respect out of comparing yourself to others to your advantage you are on the slippery slopes of arrogance. Keep away from me, please!

If you liked this you may like to check out the index of other posts of this genre or read a selection of similar posts.

68 comments:

  1. very rightly explained the difference between pride and arrogance .. its true ... like your acquaintance.. i have had experiences with colleagues,few of them, who were knowledgeable yet seemed liked they were the only one ..as if they are born with Hallo which others cannot see and that with their rude reactions only are they entitled to remind the world that they are enlightened ones :D
    Pride is after finding better results out of self assessment as rightly expressed .. very nice article ..first timer on your blog... loved it very much as well.. :) Happy Blogging !!

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  2. I doubt if the arrogant ones can decipher the fine differences you have elucidated here. So very well put Suresh.

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    1. They normally cannot nor can they change. To respect one's own achievements without comparison requires self-respect in the first place.

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  3. Good one, Suresh! I don't know what prompted or inspired you to write this, but they are words spoken out of wisdom :-) definitely needs another slow read..

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    1. Thanks, FIF! Actually been mulling this for a time and then read a parallel article by Dagny - that set it off.

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  4. Arrogance is an exaggerated sense of self importance and pride is a reasonable sense of one's importance. Well brought out in the post. I wonder when we slip into arrogance from pride!

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    1. When we start needing to pull down others in order to bolster ourselves, Rachna!

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  5. Pearls of wisdom, CS. It is true that fine lines separate the two. We often fail to realize at what point we overstepped and landed in the arrogant zone. I guess being humble in our heart, words and actions can to some extent, ensure that we stay in the right areas.

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    1. Humility is the best antidote to arrogance, Arti! I was only trying to point out that a pride in your own growth as a person can go hand in hand with a humility that acknowledges that the others may be as good or better than you.

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  6. a very thin line separates the two, they kind of mean the same thing, but pride is more positive. When you have pride, you just respect yourself, and, well, are proud of yourself. Arrogance is a little too negative...When you're arrogant, you think of yourself as too important.
    You brought out the difference very well!

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    1. The line is thin when you are trying to assess whether the other person is being proud or arrogant, Titli! Comes to yourself, it is a yawning gulf - it comes down to whether your pride comes out of comparing yourself today to yourself yesterday or by comparing yourself with others.

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  7. mm, demystifying post. As others have said, extremely thin line and very easy to step over the line too :( I often wonder if something I have said/done might have come off as arrogant to anyone or not. It's so important to have conscience checks to make sure that we don't end up crossing over to the arrogant side.

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    1. Something coming off as arrogance is more in the choice of words, Deepa! Being arrogant, however, is easy to recognize for yourself - it is the way you feel about the other person and THAT should be easy to recognize in yourself provided you are in the habit of being honest to yourself.

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    2. True, fair enough. But what if you harbour no feelings of arrogance but your words come off a certain way making the other person feel you're arrogant? The internet, as it is, can be quite misleading that way. Just wondering. Not trying to defend anyone, but only trying to understand how much really can one afford to give the other 'the benefit of doubt'?

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    3. Written communication is always dicey. When you speak, the tone of your voice, facial expressions etc. tend to convey more than the choice of your words and, thus, the choice of words can be less relevant. When writing it is best to be sure that you choose your words properly. And the very fact that you do not take that care tells a bit about the esteem you have for the other person. Like if you would not write such a thing in an email to your boss but do it to someone else shows that you do know what the right choice of words is but did not care to apply it to this person.

      I am afraid that I normally do not give the 'benefit of the doubt' to the other person in social media interactions. After all, when I have the choice of so many people - a lot of whom know how to write without causing irritation - why should I waste time giving the benefit of the doubt to anyone? :)

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    4. Looks to me like I misunderstood the 'benefit of the doubt'. Did you mean to ask about whether you continue to assume that someone knows something regardless of how often he proves otherwise? That, certainly is not what I was saying. Note the words 'prima facie' in the beginning - it was used to communicate that you assume ability, knowledge, whatever at first - when you have no reason to know what sort of person you are dealing with. Note also that at the end I say that a man of pride assumes the other person to be capable unless proved otherwise. So I am certainly not suggesting that you keep extending the 'benefit of the doubt' for all eternity.

      When I said abt not extending the benefit of the doubt on Social media, I was talking of not extending the benefit of the doubt in terms of assuming that the other person was merely misusing words and not intending arrogance. Looks like that is not what you were talking about. :)

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    5. That is what I was talking about. What you said in the first comment about 'benefit of doubt'. The receiver giving the benefit of doubt to the email/word witer. You've answered my question perfectly :)

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  8. well as for pride, if it is instilled in a right way it isnt harmful but when it comes to arrogance, even a little of it is bad! I have a friend of mine who has this irritating combination of pride and arrogance about her looks and intelligence imbibed in her and frankly it get on my nerves a lot of times!
    A well written post must say!

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    1. Hmm! That is normally difficult to take - and, frankly, I still react very badly when I perceive arrogance :)

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  9. awesome,after a long time reading blogs due to lack of time..and glad i started with this.. :)

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    1. Been missing you Ratika! Glad you are back.

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  10. I have been away for a long time now from all those I loved and treasured knowing... Missed many things I so wanted not to.

    Hopefully things will be better now, and I will be able to catch my breath again.

    As for the article Suresh, there could not have been a better timing, at least for me. One of my colleagues was starting to get on my nerve, but after this one I can easily brush her off my mind :)

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    1. Good to know that I can be of some use, Rajrupa! :)

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  11. Very well said, Suresh. Something's obviously been bugging you. Relax, it is not worth it, whatever it is.

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    1. Actually, Uma, I never let anything bug me for any length of time. It is just that some of the ideas that I had been mulling for long were brought to the fore by certain incidents, that is all :)

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  12. Words of wisom ! impressed ,in fact copy pasted the post can write poetry on the subject..thanx for sharing :)

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  13. True, CS. But like most things easy to philosophize, difficult to actually implement. With everyone agreeing with you, it would seem like it is only the select few evil ones who are arrogant. But fact is except for the select few who are of saintly character, most of us are arrogant only. Thinking we are the saintly ones and the others the arrogant ones itself is a form of arrogance by your definition.

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    1. Actually TF human beings always fall between any two extremes portrayed in such discussions. And, there are further complexities like being arrogant about your knowledge but not of your looks etc. Why, you may be arrogant about your English but not of your education - so even within knowledge you may not be uniformly arrogant :)

      The point is that we may well be unconscious of our own arrogance - like in, say, assuming that no-one else knows the words that you do and, thus, when the other person has only mistyped a word you may assume he does not know the spelling. If this piece can help anyone in finding out where he, himself, is being unconsciously arrogant that would serve my purpose.

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  14. Good analysis....enjoyed the analysis. Interestingly it also gives the ammo to deal with arrogance.The way to defuse arrogance of someone is just to ignore or not react, right? Let the arrogance put down the other person all it wants, it doesn't get anywhere till the other person accepts it!

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    1. Yup! And, understanding that the arrogant person is more often than not only trying to bolster his own self-respect actually takes the edge off the hurt.

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  15. In other words, a man of pride assumes the other person to be capable unless proved otherwise; the arrogant man assumes the other person to be incapable and would rather die than be convinced otherwise.
    ....

    Wow These words are a keeper. I am actually copying them into my diary. I think I had an aha moment! Loved the post

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    1. Thanks Ritu! You have no idea how happy this comment made me.

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    2. I second that. That one line summed up the entire post. All wisdom in a nutshell.

      Many a times, I have wondered at my habit of sharing something that I think is witty (which unfortunately is all the time) or intelligent (which, again unfortunately, is rare) as to whether I vocalize it to make the other person smile or to let the other person know I too have witty/intelligent thoughts :) If only I had the wisdom to be happy just to know that I am capable of intelligence and humor :)

      After reading your post, I am relieved that at least it is not arrogance but plain old vanity :)

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    3. Hmm! Now that is far more common a vice - Vanity :) Were it not for my own vanity, I'd probably not be blogging at all :)

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    4. :) I like to think of it as an inherent desire to spread joy and happiness ;)

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  16. This is vry nice...pride and arrogance goes hand in hand more than often..most of us humans arent matured enough to confine our knowledge for a noble cause..we end up basking in glory and treat others as lowly inferiors...

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    1. All of us err on the side of arrogance sometimes, Soham. The only question is how frequently or how rarely it happens.

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  17. This is an excellent post. There is a very thin line between pride and arrogance. Recently I got talking to a British couple at the airport and after 20 minutes of chatting the man said to me, 'You speak very good English!' I felt very proud at that moment :)
    PS - I have been travelling and hence am not able to write comments regularly!

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    1. Ah! And I thought it was the IPL that was keeping you away :)

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  18. I believe that an arrogant man constantly belittle others to remind himself of his own happiness. It is a way of life for him. He cannot survive without it.

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    1. Not remind himself of his own happiness, Amit, he needs that to even feel happy :)

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  19. This post is an alert that cautions every one one on slipping into arrogance without knowing based on knowledge of tit bits. But often these can be merely weaknesses for most but one who needs it as a staple diet for happiness, probably could be a real arrogant.

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  20. Great! I enjoyed reading the analysis! Now please tell us more about that arrogant person :O

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    1. No specific person, Giribala! Quite a few that I have met including the one I see in the mirror :)

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  21. Brilliant, as usual, as it was, I am wondering what triggered this post? I fear we have all gotten a trifle aggressive with our arrogance in this country these past few years.
    Sigh. After reading this, I am going to try to be better. (I am saying that very seriously)

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    1. Rickie and serious? :) This I got to see :)

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  22. Hi Suresh
    That part about only arrogant people looking at others as 'losers' is so true . The fact is these people are cheating their own selves !

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    1. They have no choice. They cannot feel happy about themselves otherwise :)

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  23. Nice analyses-arrogance sometimes comes in garb of false humility-no?

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    1. It does, Indu! That can obscure it from the others but, if the person being arrogant can be honest with himself, he can recognize it himself for he can identify his own thoughts.

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  24. Like Indu said, it is the false humility that scares me the most. At least the arrogant are honest enough to show their true colours!

    If only we could accept that none of us are superior or inferior. We all have unique traits that set us apart.

    Suresh, you've written something that is meant to be read again and again. *Respect*

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  25. According to Ayn Rand, arrogance is a second hand emotion. To feel it, you must have other people around you. You need them so you can compare yourself to them and feel superior.

    A first hand emotion or virtue has no need for other people in a primary sense. It's source is within... and the source is perennial and thus permanent.

    This was truly awesome... thank you for letting me egg you. :D

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    1. Ah! I hope yeh dil rakne ki baat nahin hai :) I will take it as meant :)

      I am not too fond of Ayn Rand - great thinker and all but her books resound of "If you agree with me you are good else you are evil" :) In this issue of course, my views parallel hers.

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    2. I never say something unless I mean it. I am very scrupulous that way. I say what I mean and mean what I say.

      But yes, I've learned to hold my tongue when it comes to panning people online. Mighty fragile egos some are blessed with. I just click away.

      Dagny

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    3. Oh! That was only my humility - false or otherwise - and no aspersion on you :)

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  26. Very well said, Suresh. And your post has given me a lot to mull over.

    I would like to add that considering how subjective human beings are, one person's pride could be taken by another person as arrogance. I would say that humility is perhaps what separates the two — humility of action and not the humility of (often self-deprecating) words.

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    1. Humility of thought first, Sudha! Which is why it is far easier for you to identify where you are yourself being arrogant since you know best what your thoughts were.

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  27. How very true! People even tend to mix up the traits of pride and ego.

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  28. A wonderful post on human nature & its follies... Enjoyed reading Suresh!

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