Got Conceit?

June 26, 2011

“If you feel more important that many human beings, think of only one thing your entire life: releasing your soul from this malady.”  Faouzi Skali  20th-21st century

I really must acquaint myself a little more with Mr. Skali, since it seems I’m responding to more than a few of his quotes!  When I turned the page and saw his name again, I have to admit, I thought, oh no, not again!  But I’m not cheating!  Yay me!  I could just as easily pick and choose my quotes.  You the reader would never know.  It’s not like you’d rush out and get the book I’m using, to check and see if I was being honest. 

Humility is a subject that I’ve written about quite recently.  Remember the admittedly base “we all wipe our ass with toilet paper” line?  My husband reminded me that some of us have advanced to “flushable wipes” and therefore have cleaner bottoms than others, but regardless, TP, wipes, bidets, I’m not here to convey their merits or argue superiority.  I’ll just further diminish the social propriety of the conversation and quote the title of a favorite preschool book, “Everybody Poops.”  We all do.  No matter what we clothe ourselves in literally or figuratively, just like all other creatures on the planet, we rid ourselves of waste.  If it was only as easy to rid ourselves of our thoughts of superiority. 

I can only speak for myself of course, and for me it takes a certain amount of self-discipline and monitoring to maintain that operational cognizance that we are all the same, in every daily interaction I have.  It’s always a  bit easier to do when you’re standing in the DMV line than it is when you’re fortunate enough to be in the VIP suite.   When I remember, I use the Hindi word “Namaste” and recite it silently when coming into contact with another human being, especially when I’m dealing with someone performing service for me.   Translated from the Sanskrit as “I bow to you”, it’s meant as an equalizer, recognizing the fact that we are alike and indicating respect and honor.  There but for the grace of God, fortune, circumstances, timing, luck, whatever, go I.  It prompts me to remember that I could be the one mopping the floor, changing the bedpan, wiping the table, losing my religion or mind, or standing on the street corner.  That doesn’t negate personal effort or responsibility though.  I’m still a firm believer in and preacher of the favorite motto, “No matter where you’ve been or who you are, where you go is up to you.”  Sometimes we just need a hand, an opening, a chance, a beam of sunlight reflecting at just the right angle, illuminating the way.  It’s all about being ready to recognize those opportunities and believing that each of us deserves them.

So, who among us would choose to surround ourselves with holier than thou, I’m smarter, prettier, better, more worthy than you, braggarts?  Not I.  I’m the first one to make a run for it if I see a serial boaster headed my way.  I’m not concerned in the least about the social ramifications.   Let someone else grin and bear it!  I’m not very good at that.

But is it a malady any of us are immune to?  No.  I confess that I wouldn’t want to have to count the number of times I’ve been guilty of  a self aggrandizing attitude or behavior.  Admittedly, I’ve engaged in an occasional “look at me and be jealous” strut to the front row of a show.  I too have sat in a hospital emergency room and screamed (inside my head) that my pain is certainly more important than THAT woman’s.  Does a vaccine exist?  No, if only it did!  Can we fight of the disease with introspective living and proactive/prophylactic measures? Yes, but it’s not easy.  Nothing of true value ever is.  That’s another one of those lessons that it took me a long time to learn.

Although I’ve never had the occasion to ask them personally, I propose that even those that most of us would consider to be preeminently selfless, like Mother Teresa or Mahatma Gandhi, have had their humanly haughty moments.  We all fail when it comes to sinlessness and perfection.  None of us can claim that birthright. The health and happiness of our individual lives and consequently our world, would surely improve if each of us would strive to remember that, and live with the intention of recognizing our fellow human beings as fundamentally equal. 

Peace, Love, and Namaste

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