On Hubris

I’ve posted before on how I learned to make sense of the world; rejecting the deity-oriented worldview was necessary to account for examples of injustice and human suffering that are the rule on Earth, rather than the exception.  Cheaters win here.  (A lot.)  Good guys go unrewarded.  Children starve, are gassed, sold into ‘marriage,’ and die in pain and afraid at the hands of rapists and schoolyard shooters.  Innocents are unprotected and good men go unrewarded.  You have to take God out of the equation to make sense of that.

Because when God is gone, you are left with man.  The barbarian state of the world makes a hell of a lot more sense when jealous, fearful, covetous, self-important humanity is in charge.  Back that up with a body and planet that follow scientific laws of aging, disease, nutrition, agricultural capacity, and weather disasters, etc., and you get -surprise! Survival of the fittest.

We’re proud of our badassery, too.  Those times when we win against the world are celebrated, lustfully, with a rush of adrenaline and power.  From Gladiators to Olympians;  from Caesar to Hannibal to Miranda’s Hamilton;  from Newton to Salk to Neil Degrasse Tyson;  humans have learned, adapted, manipulated and subdued ourselves and our world.  Aut viam inveniam aut faciam. I will either find a way or make one.

But there’s a problem.  As strength improves and power increases; as you are rewarded with a world of your own making,  eventually you internalize the idea that you are author, forger, and arbiter.  You believe you are entitled to mold the world to the way you deem fit.  You become accustomed to imposing your will on the environment, and to having that environment bend.

Where hubris gets in the way is when that urge to impose your will begins to extend to people instead of just circumstances.  It’s easy to slip into force mode.  Take your kids, for an easy example.  You’re supposed to mold them, force their behavior.  Or your work. You’re supposed to make it rain.  But what about your friends?  Your boyfriend? Your girlfriend? What about your kids when they start making crappy choices and you see the shitstorm coming, and you want to ward it off?  What about when you just think someone out there is a flat-out tool, and you need to teach them a fucking lesson?  What happens when you turn yourself into Aaron Hernandez? Josh Duggar? The spouse of the woman next door who fell into the coffee table, again?

You need to be able to know your place in the world just as much as you need to bend that world. That requires the opposite of hubris. So it gets tricky.  Understanding the limits of your entitlement and knowing you really have very minimal rights in the realm of interpersonal relations requires recusing yourself rather than imposing yourself.

The psychiatric fight between those opposites can be a shitshow.  Am I small? Am I big? What kind of interpersonal interaction does it apply to? How far is over the line? Calling someone out on their bullshit behavior? Being hurt by someone who hurt you by accident? Asking them to not do it again?  How big am I really entitled to be?  How small am I required to be?

This is the shit in the way of recovery.  And I don’t know how to do this work.

 

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