Self-righteousness . . . halo for rent

I am truly interested in what others have to say in so far as they inform my own thinking or add dimensions I had not previously recognised. When they persistently disagree, quibble over semantics, refuse to accept the most basic precepts or reveal bigotry, I have no choice but to walk away. When you hit your head against a brick wall, it won’t be the wall that breaks no matter how badly it’s built.

Similarly, when it becomes obvious they broadly agree with me, I quickly move on to new ideas and fresh perspectives — life is too short to do otherwise, in my opinion. To remain in the company of those who always agree with you is naturally self-gratifying but also inevitably bolsters the ego to the point of constipation and leads to self-righteousness which, as most of us know, is a very heavy door to shove open again.

I have copied the following because Ian McEwan puts it so much better than I:

“When you make the self the outer limit of your politics, you then begin to ignore a great deal of the attitudes, situations, dilemmas, misery of others . . . in today’s highly combustible culture, the mutual response at the heart of co-respondence has been replaced by a kind of mutual reactivity, a co-reaction — we fling intransigent opinions at one another, all the while continually contracting our humanity and calcifying our selves in order to shield against the hard-edged opinions of others. We are increasingly averse to engaging in the uncomfortable luxury of changing our minds, which is, of course, the primary practice of personal change and growth. The radiant self-revision of becoming, that most beautiful and hope-giving feature of the human experience, has given way to a stubborn self-righteousness of being.”
Ian McEwan: Nutshell 2016

© Rivenrod 2016

Originally published at on October 10, 2016.

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