Monday, December 24, 2012

"The Beatings will Continue Until Morale Improves"

Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.

Most people think it's "Pride goes before a fall" but that's a misquote. The above is the correct quote.

But why should pride go before destruction? It depends on how you define pride. If you define it the way the Greeks did - Hubris - then it makes sense. Then, hubris and pride are the same thing.

The Greeks defined Hubris as the god of arrogance, lack of restraint, insolence and wanton violence. It was always followed by Nemesis, the goddess of fate and revenge. It's the same thing as pride going before destruction.

Originally the Greeks defined Hubris as humiliating someone in public, and they considered it so obscene they banned it from the theater. So, then, the Biblical concept of pride would mean humiliating someone in public.

And there's the rub.

The psychiatrist James Gilligan, who spent 35 years dealing with prisoners who had committed the most horrendous of crimes, when he asked him why they did it, heard, every time, "He disrespected me."

So the humiliated prisoner attempted to replace shame and humiliation with self-respect by murder - revenge.

Gilligan one day realized what he was hearing over and over was the story of Cain and Abel -- hubris followed by revenge, pride going before a fall. The Greeks saw the problem, as did the Hebrews.

The Greeks also saw the solution - don't humiliate people, and certainly not in public.

Most people don't understand just how bad humiliating someone is, especially if they have shaky self-esteem (as Gilligan once wrote, "The most dangerous men are those who are afraid they are wimps").

The first defense people engage in is to blame their problems on other people. This is the lesson of Adam and Eve. Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent. So when a person who is easily humiliated feels he's been humiliated, the first thing he is going to do is blame his problems on the person attacking him.

And often the response is violence - revenge. Just as Cain blamed his problems on Abel and murdered him.

It's bad enough when individual humiliate each other but it's far worse when countries do it to each other. Hitler wrote about Germany's "humiliation" from the Treaty of Versailles - and looked at what happened (incidentally, Germany was no more guilty than France or England in WWI).

Osama bin Laden wrote about Islam's "humiliation" at the hands of the West - and look at what happened.

I think it's obvious that when politicians obtain political power they lose their consciences. In other words, they become afflicted with Hubris. They humiliate other countries, then those countries seek revenge on us, we feel humiliated and seek revenge on them...and so on.

I call it the Cycle of Murder and Revenge.

At one time the Greek myths and the Bible were taught in school. But not anymore. Personally, I'd settle for the stories of Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel, and Hubris followed by Nemesis being taught.

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