Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The folly of hubris.

It is impossible to follow the advice, "Don't take it personally." It is twice as difficult to do so when ones ego is the size of a small planet. But a snowball will survive in hell first before a person with the ego of a small planet and a self-righteousness to rival it decides not to "take it personally." That latter person is the embodiment of the Kenyan "leader": supremely egotistical and equally supremely self-righteous. Watching one of this species holding forth at a baraza, a rally or before generally fawning member of the supine Fourth Estate and you can sense the self-confident arrogance of the self-righteous egotist.

It is becoming a pervasive phenomenon, spreading like the Prosopis juliflora spp did in the drylands of Baringo, Tana River and Garissa.It is a contagion like the Black Death. It is persistent too, like the Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome. And it lingers like a bad smell, like the aftermath of a skunk's attack. That sense of egotistic self-righteousness can be observed today not just in the elected classes, but in "top" businessmen, "popular" preachers, "artistes", certain senior members of the public service, "socialites" and "celebs", and a few of our "top rugby players". It is being emulated. In many instances it crosses the line to hubris pretty easily.

Excessive pride, excessive self-confidence. That is hubris. Where some of us would harbour slight doubts even when we are the masters of what we see, our "leaders" know no such humility. They have conquered their worlds. They have done so by hook and by crook. They have done so despite the spite and jealousy of their opponents. They have done so because all the known gods are on their side. They planted the seeds of success, they watered the sprouting saplings, and now they are reaping the fruits. Because only they could do it. It would behoove us lesser mortals to keep this in mind when we are in the presence of greatness. It behooves us to genuflect, to curtsy, to be as reverentially deferential as demanded by greatness come among us.

That is the sense you get when you stumble on one of their secret redoubts, where the only hoi polloi allowed in are the servants, the pot-scrubbers, the watchers of men. In these habitats, these "leaders" reveal their true natures: crass; petty, small. It comes as quite a shock to realise that very few of their number have truly transcended great wealth and power. This elite few understands that power does what power does, it needs no spokesman. Power need not announce itself; it is seen, it is feel, it is experienced. It simply is. The vast majority of these "leaders" cannot but help prove that they have power and by trying to prove it they reveal that they do not. They end up as the dog being wagged by its tail. They end up as whispers in the dark, snatches of conversations past, vestiges of notoriety long forgotten. Their power play is piteous to witness. Their hubris blinds them to their folly.

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