Did you ever notice that we are more concerned about whether our clothes make us look fat than if our worldview makes us look arrogant? Now you might think that’s a dumb question, after all people look at us and judge us based on our appearance, right? Assuming that’s true, then our appearance is more than just our clothes and our weight, it also includes our actions and how we show up in the world.
Now I want to be very clear, I’m not advocating that we need to live our lives overly concerned about other’s opinions of us. In fact, I believe that all too often we limit being are truly authentic selves due to our concerns of what others think. I feel that we all need to follow our heart and follow our passions even if it requires us to push through the sense of being judged.
What I’m calling us to consider here is that almost all of us carry some concern about the persona we project to the world. I also want you to consider that one aspect of that persona is a worldview of life that quietly sits in your consciousness and directs much of your thinking and how you see things “out there” in the physical world. And, as this worldview (also called your value system) directs your thinking it drives your actions.
So where does arrogance come in? It’s been my experience that if a person believes that their way of seeing the world is “the right way” and “the only way”, they tend dismiss out of hand another person’s belief that arises from a different worldview. This dismissal causes them to appear arrogant. I suspect all of us have judged someone as being arrogant when they were acting from a worldview that was different from ours. Yet, have we considered when we might have been projecting the same arrogance to others?
This thought came up for me recently as I was watching an episode of PBS’s “Frontline” series, entitled “The Warning.” The show was about a woman named Brooksley Born, a member of the Clinton administration who tried to institute controls on the buying and selling of derivatives by banks and other financial institutions. She warned that the lack of regulation in this area had the potential to bring down our financial system. The program details how Born bumped heads with Alan Greenspan and his disciples. Greenspan, who had developed his beliefs from author Ayn Rand, believed that the best government was the one that governed the least. He felt that the marketplace could police itself without governmental interference. Greenspan used his power to block Born from instituting any regulations that might’ve controlled the “black box” trading of derivatives. His arrogance based on his worldview precluded him from seeing any value in Born’s opinions. At the conclusion of the PBS program, Greenspan is shown being questioned by Congress after the recent financial meltdown. He acknowledges that these events have led him to change his “view” on the ability of marketplaces to police themselves. We are all continuing to pay due to the arrogance of Greenspan and those he influenced.
Social scientists have measured and labeled a series of common worldviews through which humans grow before each of us finally settle into a predominant one. Although we may have moved through “lower” ways of looking at life before settling into the lens which drives our thinking, we frequently do not acknowledge these other viewpoints exist. Nor do we acknowledge the existence of levels of thinking that may be “above” our level. Our inability to recognize that there are other valid ways of looking at life frequently leads to our appearing arrogant.
There are three predominant value systems playing out in the United States today. One level is frequently called the “mythic” or “traditional” worldview. In Spiral Dynamics, this is the blue meme. This level is characterized by a desire to bring order and stability to everything, black-and-white moralistic thinking, controlling impulses, sacrificing now for a reward later, etc. We see this level in fundamentalist Christians and in people with an attitude of “America — love it or leave it”. The next level is called “rational” or “modern”. In Spiral Dynamics this is the orange meme. This level is characterized by an emphasis on worldly success and material abundance, science and technology as the answer to life, playing to win and enjoying the competition, etc. We see this level in materialistic scientists and Wall Street bankers. The third level is called “pluralistic” or “postmodern”. In Spiral Dynamics, this is the green meme. This level is characterized by an emphasis on an exploration of our inner being, seeking a sense of community, reaching decisions through consensus, etc. We see this in New Age thinkers, and Greenpeace advocates.
Now I have over simplified these levels for the sake of brevity, so if you wish to explore it more there are a number of links and other articles on the Conscious Bridge website which can take you to a more in-depth discussion. One thing that all of these models point out is that when you’re thinking out of one of these value systems, you can’t even acknowledge the other levels exist. You simply can’t understand why people think like they do. Yet all of these models point to the existence of a “higher” level where you begin to see and acknowledge that these multiple viewpoints not only exist, they each have validity. In Spiral Dynamics, this is called this the leap from “tier 1” thinking to “tier 2” thinking.
We bump into the arrogance of tier 1 thinking all the time. Alan Greenspan appears to have been locked in tier 1 orange meme thinking. Although I enjoy the writings of scientist Richard Dawkins, his overly materialistic way of seeing the world and denying the existence of God shows him locked in tier 1 orange meme thinking and makes him frequently come across as arrogant. The so-called “skeptics” who go to great lengths to debunk any scientific evidence that supports the reality of paranormal phenomena also appear to be caught in the arrogance of their worldview.
Many of us have felt the judgmental arrogance of fundamentalist Christians, who in their zeal to “save us” have ended up condemning us when we didn’t convert to their way of seeing life. David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons in their recent book “UnChristian” seek to advise other Christians that the tactics they use to convert others actually can serve to turn them off. They use statistical data and stories to try and convince their fellow believers to change their approach in how to seek converts. What was significant to me about this book was that the authors could see that the traditional Christian worldview was leading them be perceived as arrogant by others.
There are plenty of examples where postmodern green meme, thinking leads to arrogance as well. I’ve heard ecologists who have belittled the thinking of others who denied the existence of global warming . I’ve heard “spiritual people” ignorantly express arrogant statements about Christian believers and their faith. The point is, none of us are immune from arrogance arising out of our value system.
The key is to become conscious of the impact of our worldview on our thinking. We must move into seeing the world integrally with second tier consciousness. We must come to value all of the worldviews and see the truth and gifts they have given us. Each level of thinking exist for a purpose. Individually, each of us has moved or will move through every level, either in this life time or in some future existence. When in our lives we experience arrogance from others who believe differently from us, we need to try to take their perspective and understand why they think like they think. We don’t have to agree with them, we simply need to seek to understand them. And, ultimately we need to see their arrogance as a mirror being held up to us so that we can see and release any arrogance we may exhibit. The more each of us can heal our arrogance, the more compassion we can display for others and the more we can create a a world that works for everyone.
So today as we present our persona to the world, as we check ourselves in our metaphysical mirror, let’s make sure we’re not wearing clothes that make us look arrogant.
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!