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I don't have nearly as much of a problem with arrogant people now as I used to.  I used to take their arrogance personally, as if it meant something to me when an arrogant person treated me as an inferior.  Now, though, I realize that arrogance is merely a mask for people who feel even more inferior than I do.  The only way they've learned of compensating for their own insecurities is to put others down, to try to make them feel like crap, so that they can feel better themselves.  Redfield touches on this dynamic in The Celestine Prophecy--by putting others down, they're draining energy from them, and taking it for themselves.

I don't give them the satisfaction any longer.  An arrogant person can't make me feel bad any more, because it's so easy to see through them once you know that they're faking it.  They've put on this mask because they fear that others will see through them, will understand that no, they're not happy.  I see arrogance as a sad state now, a state in which people try to hide behind their money or their breeding or their social standing or their positions of "power," but a state in which they'll never be able to let their true selves shine through.

The film Regarding Henry gives a glimpse of what could happen if one sort of arrogance-- the power-based kind --were taken away, and a man were to allow his own fundamental honesty shine through.  Of course we could enter into an hours-long discourse about his diminished mental capabilities, but we don't need to do so.  

Fundamentally, Henry (Harrison Ford) becomes a happier man because he no longer needs to hide behind the power of his position in order to make himself feel better.

It's interesting that Hollywood so often equates humility with diminished mental powers.  I read an interesting column about the parallels between Regarding Henry and Forrest Gump, in which the author examined the fact that two Hollywood heroes of the same year were basically shown as not very intelligent, to be diplomatic.  The beauty of these two films is in the lack of arrogance of the characters, not in their mental abilities.  Robin Williams regularly makes films about nice men who are doing their best to live life, without being arrogant.  In his films, the arrogant people are often shown as the weak people they truly are.   (The exception is Mrs. Doubtfire, in which his character is so arrogant that he never sees the harm he's caused his family, and even blames his current situation on his wife, who stuck by him as long as she could through his broken promises and lack of responsibility.)

In the world of literature, possibly the most effective arrogant character ever created is Ivan Ilych, in Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilych."  This is a man who married because it was the right thing to do, who started to stay out with his friends because his family started annoying him, who loved the power of the bench (he was a judge), but who comes to the end of his life and finally admits to himself:  It was all wrong.  Everything he ever did--his whole life--was wrong.  His funeral, at which his friends wonder who's going to get his job and his wife complains that she won't be able to live on the pension she'll receive, is incredibly painful.  Ilych is very similar to Dickens' Scrooge, but Scrooge gets a second chance, an opportunity to change his ways.  Ilych sees the light, but only upon his death bed when it's too late to do anything about it.

Be arrogant if you wish.  Look down on others and treat them poorly, if you wish.  But realize that if you do so, you're only allowing your own inner weaknesses to shine through, and while some people may be fooled and consider you simply arrogant, most others will see that you're fooling yourself more than anyone else, and that you're not nearly as "superior" as you act and claim.

And for those who must deal with arrogance on a regular basis, please keep in mind that arrogant people treat you poorly only because they're needier than you, and they haven't yet admitted to themselves that they are needy.  They need and deserve your compassion, not your anger.


Arrogance diminishes wisdom.

Arabian proverb


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How great some people would be if they were not arrogant.

The Talmud


Arrogance is the obstruction of wisdom.

Bion of Smyrna


When people are most sure and arrogant, they are commonly
the most mistaken, and have then given views to passion,
without that proper deliberation and suspense which can
alone secure them from the grossest absurdities.

David Hume


Anyone who does not exercise compassion is ignorant of the reality
that everyone needs it at some time in life; or we forget that someone
has blessed us with compassion at a time when we needed it.  That is
the smallness of arrogance.  It is a disease of the soul.  It can be highly
contagious.  Ignorance is its carrier.  It ravages the souls of those who
think there is no reality beyond themselves.  Those who suffer from the
smallness of arrogance think that ill fortune is the fault of those who
suffer it; that good fortune is a privilege that belongs to them.  Whatever
path you take, Grandson, do not succumb to arrogance and endanger your soul.

Joseph M. Marshall III


Arrogance means that one knows how to press forward but not
how to draw back, that one knows existence but not annihilation,
knows something about winning but nothing about losing.

I Ching


Arrogance is a mixture of impertinence, disobedience, indiscipline,
rudeness, harshness and a self-assertive nature.



Early in my career, I had to choose between an honest arrogance
and a hypercritical humility.  I deliberately choose an
honest arrogance, and I've never been sorry.

Frank Lloyd Wright


Arrogance is a creature.  It does not have senses.
It has only a sharp tongue and the pointing finger.

Toba Beta


Ignorance is a horrible thing.  But arrogance, the belief that knowing a
little more than the ignorant makes you wise, is more horrible still.

James Rozoff



There is a wicked and pervading arrogance loose on the earth,
like a rabid beast, an overdog.  Does it run, does it slouch, does
its name have a number?  The beast preaches contempt, for that's
what arrogance says:  that nothing is real but itself, and the bone
and blood of another's being are insubstantial as breath.

Kelly Cherry


We have come to look at our planet as a resource for our species, which
is funny when you think that the planet has been around for about five
billion years, and Homo sapiens for perhaps one hundred thousand.  We
have acquired an arrogance about ourselves that I find frightening.  We have
come to feel that we are so far apart from the rest of nature
that we have but to command.

Marston Bates


Nobody who is somebody looks down on anybody.

Margaret Deland


The arrogance of age must submit to be taught by youth.

Edmund Burke


Arrogance really comes from insecurity, and in the end our feeling
that we are bigger than others is really the flip side
of our feeling that we are smaller than others.

Desmond Tutu


Arrogance, boastfulness, and the overestimation of our abilities
reflects underdeveloped self-esteem rather than, as some
people imagine, too much self-esteem.

Nathaniel Branden
Self-Esteem Every Day


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The opposite of humility is arrogance--the belief that we are wiser
or better than others.   Arrogance promotes separation rather than
community.  It looms like a brick wall between us
and those from whom we could learn.

John Marks Templeton
Worldwide Laws of Life


I didn't know that there was a thin line between ignorance and arrogance.

Faraaz Kazi
Truly, Madly, Deeply


Arrogance likes to appear humble in public.

Toba Beta
Master of Stupidity

Arrogance makes you stronger from outside, but even weaker from inside.

Ujas Soni

When you judge anotherís religion then your beliefs are finally judged,
humility sets in.  At this point, God smiles because he finally got you to
recognize arrogance.  Blessed is the person that steps outside their
beliefs for one day to absorb a different perspective on life.  From that
perspective you will not only learn about others but finally see your true self.

Shannon L. Alder


When you think yours is the only true path you forever chain yourself to
judging others and narrow the vision of God.  The roads to righteousness
and arrogance are parallel roads that can intersect each other several times
throughout a person's life.  Itís often hard to recognize one road from
another.  What makes them different is the road to righteousness is paved
with the love of humanity.  The road to arrogance is paved with the love of self.

Shannon L. Alder



Alone in his car heading west, it's easy for Jason
to feel sorry for himself and mad at the world.  But
then he gives a ride to Hector and learns that life
isn't nearly as negative as we sometimes see it,
and that the prejudice and discrimination that
he's experiencing aren't unique to him--and aren't
impossible to overcome.  The friendship between
this young man and his 70-year-old passenger is
an inspiring story of love and dealing with
obstacles in our lives.    
Book - Kindle



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