Arrogance is a quality that often hides itself under a cloak of false modesty, so that it takes a while to know that there is, indeed, a sense of superiority at work.
Our culture extols humility and modesty to an almost incredible extreme, and frowns upon arrogance; but arrogance has a way of flourishing, for all that it’s banned, and it veils itself in a smiling sheet of something that has all the appearance of modesty, but is actually a travesty of it.
Arrogance comes when one feels oneself superior in any way, or ways, to one’s fellow beings….beauty, birth (breeding), wealth, intelligence, connections, power….even fair-skinned, or tall, or slim people are sometimes arrogant about it!
Arrogance is an insidous groundweed that grows almost without one’s knowledge. One thinks one has humility, and yet, to the observer, the pride is so visible….one of my neighbours told me, in all seriousness, “We have no problems with dark skin…even though we are fair and our daughter in law has dark skin, she’s a good girl!” She would have been horrified and indignant if I had tried to point out the anomaly in her words.
One of the most arrogant men I knew would always preface his most insulting comments by “in my humple (sic) opinion….” and that opinion would be anything but “humple”! This guy knew everything about everything…and he was Always Right. His opinion wasn’t an opinion…it was fact. His method was the Right Method, and others were misguided fools….and so it went.
Arrogance is, perhaps, just a little easier to take if there is some solid achievement (a doctorate, perhaps, or a super-specialization in some branch of knowledge…or perhaps a fortune, amassed by diligent work)…less easy to bear when it’s about birth or beauty. How can something one is totally not in control of, be a source of arrogant pride? “We are the Chitpavan Brahmins….I belong to the GSB (Goud Saraswat Brahmin)….my community, the Veerashaiva Pillai….” you belong there by an accident of birth….so why the unreasoning pride?
Why arrogance? We have a saying in Tamizh…“nirai kudam thaLumbAthu”…the full pot does not slop over. Those who are full of virtue or achievement, see no need to advertise the fact. Isaac Asimov said this when he made himself a character in one of his novels, “Authorised Murder”….”He was so intelligent that he did not see the need to show it” or words to that effect. One’s achievements and abilities, whatever one may think, DO have a way of shining through, and being appreciated by others…the need to advertise them seems to come from some deep sense of insecurity and the driven need to be seen to be better than one’s fellow men.
When we lived in Muscat, in the country of Oman, the nearest large city was Dubai, one of the United Arab Emirates. One of my friends made this keen observation: “The people in Muscat always stress how much better life is in Muscat, compared to Dubai. The people in Dubai…never discuss the topic at all!”
That, to me, illustrates the “un-necessity” of arrogance! A superiority complex, I think, is always a disguised inferiority complex. Why, unless I feel inferior to someone else, would I feel the need to stress my superiority?
I feel that I am also often prey to arrogance…but I am, seriously, genuinely trying to overcome this propensity. Knock me on the head if you find me arrogant or proud…you would be a real friend, and be doing me a service.