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7 Deadly Attitudes: Part 4

February 18th, 2013

Deadly Insolence
Speech, action and attitude

Insolence is speech or behavior that is rude and disrespectful. Its root is in arrogance and an inappropriate sense of our own importance. Arrogance is the opposite of gratefulness. Insolence is the other pole from graceful speech.

Insolence for the purpose of this conversation is not the province of an oppressed person speaking to one in a position of power. The dangerous insolence is in the mouth and control of the privileged.

No hand-outs

This insolence is the stuff of news sound bytes, political campaigns and schoolyards, of far too many sermons and a good many executive and middle management conversations. It is speech or action that reflect our feeling that we are better than another because of our position, education, physical strength, nationality, age, skin color, gender or economic standing. It says essentially, "I got mine, now you get yours." It is the equivalent of the two-year-old's proclamation about every toy, "Mine!' Sharing is out of range of the arrogant because they see nothing they have as a gift.

The "self-made man"

The stereotypical "self-made man" is a fiction. All of us are who and what we are by a huge series of life circumstances. One different decision by us or by our predecessors and a whole other set of indicators would have influenced  our lives. None of us is an island. We are interdependent with every other being and with the earth.

Most of us have a hard time admitting to arrogance.

It sounds so bad that we judge it to be wrong and conclude that we must hide it or squelch it so that it doesn't reflect badly on us.  Sometimes we fail to see the arrogance in ourselves because we arrogantly believe we could not support such a vice.

Two remedies for arrogance

Go out into a country space on a clear night and try to count the stars. When I did this as a child I shivered with the realization of just how insignificant my juvenile accomplishments were.  The next feeling was depression because I didn't like feeling so small. There is another remedy that usually does not lead to depression.

I begin listing the many "breaks" I have had in life, naming and envisioning one at a time the people who helped me and the events that turned out right to bring me to this place. About five minutes into this exercise, my arrogance has shriveled and I am alive with gratefulness.

How to curb insolence

When we deal with others who have less of some commodity we value we do well to see ourselves without some of our breaks. When someone expresses a need and a disrespectful thought rises, we know that we need to go back to whatever exercises keep us real. We are the person before us. How do we wish to be heard and spoken to?

How do you maintain a positive and realistic picture of your value?

What suggestions can you offer to help us to avoid an arrogant attitude and the insolent words and actions that stem from it?

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