Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pride Goeth before the Fall

Undone by our Inner Demons.  This whole Petraeus affair, or more precisely the chain of events it has unraveled, is terribly overblown, and the media is feasting on the carcasses.

So why have you glommed onto it?  my sister Andy asked.  It's just your typical Washington nastiness, she said, and the media on a high of its own making. Good for business, too.

Yeah, sis, I replied, but I think what fascinates is the human frailties, the hubris.  Iago going after Othello, Brutus after Julius Caesar, the Republicans going after the Democrats, Congressmen like Livingston and Gingrich going after President Clinton for the very same offenses they themselves were committing, revisiting Watergate, Romney undoing himself (and showing his true character) with his “gifts” gaffe to augment his 47% gaffe.

As a modern-day philosopher said: "the next step after being puffed up with arrogance could be falling flat on your face."    

That's it in a nutshell.  

Everyone is caught up in a hubris-spun web of intrigue and poor judgment that brings down heroes and anti-heroes alike.  Not only the mighty, like Petraeus, but also the ordinary, the overzealous FBI agent, the bored social-climbing housewife, the lonely warrior monk, the infatuated scholar wannabe.  Conspiracy theories?  C’mon. It’s just plain, old fashion hubris and temptation, going back to ancient Greece again, even to Adam and Eve some say.  

Are we hardwired for self-defeating behavior? Don’t we all have inner demons that come up and undo us,  especially if we're "puffed up" and not paying attention to them, unmindful and unaware of the unconscious motivations buried deep within us from childhood? Are we all narcissists at heart?   

Dr. Sam Vaknin (Malignant Self-love, 2010) describes narcissists this way:  they "are masochists; they destroy and defeat themselves by behaving recklessly, by retarding intimacy, by sabotaging careers and relationships, and by being obstructive, negativist and passive-aggressive.”  Dr. Phil had a field-day with this one, where I discovered Dr. Vaknin. 

It sounds like the old proverb that “Pride goes before the fall.”  Human frailties. Hubris. Narcissism.  Acting in foolish ways that defy common sense.    

Do politics and hubris go hand in hand? Seems so, as the unraveling Patraeus connections and the media circus attest. Like a Greek tragedy, hubris is catching everyone in its self-destructive path.   I guess the story doesn't end until the mighty have fallen, and the ordinary along with them. 
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