How Might We Face Our Own Hubris Better?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 4:31 pm

How Might We Face Our Own Hubris Better?

Inquiry before advocacy. We are a project that values this approach to living an examined life. When we enter into any space with inquiry-based curiosity, we begin to understand ourselves and the issues we’re troubled by.

We live in an era where anger is abundant — and understandably so. Gone unchecked, it can form a thick callus of certainty and self-righteousness. Columns by Parker, Courtney, and Omid demonstrate how we might face our own hubris with courage, humility, and gratitude for our anger and gifts.

(Mari Lezhava / Unsplash / Public Domain Dedication (CC0))

Parker Palmer | Owning Up to My Toxic Biases
If there’s one thing I know about Parker, it’s that he’s lived a life of self-introspection and self-criticism. And I think that’s what so many readers found appealing about his column this week: his willingness to challenge his own assumptions and privilege… even in his 78th year:

“Anger isn’t the problem. The problem is getting hooked on anger — addicted to an emotion that gives you a fleeting high but leaves you feeling worse, all the while robbing you of well-being and creating an insatiable desire for the next hit. Being hooked saps me of energy and harms my health. Worse still, it diverts me from taking personal responsibility for what’s going on right now.”

(Jefferson County Public Schools / Flickr )

Courtney Martin | Three Tensions at the Heart of Fighting Racism as a White Person
Making change with renewed self-reflection and authenticity requires work. Dealing with the discomfort and the messiness of working for racial justice is where the lessons lie:

“Look for signs of how we are affecting those around us. If you’re trying to make friends from a transactional, objectifying place, folks aren’t going to respond with warmth. Read the room.”

Demonstrators argue during a national protest against the social welfare reform bill introduced by the government of President Michel Temer, which seeks to extend the years of contributions and raise the minimum age for retirement, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on March 31, 2017.

(Tercio Teixeira / Getty Images / © All Rights Reserved)

Omid Safi | How Can We Live Beautifully in an Age of Vitriol?
It’s difficult not to meet anger with anger. But, Omid asks, can we be better people and step away from a confrontation in which no one wins?

“How do we live beautifully when so much of dialogue is ‘marketized’ based on how many people we can arouse to one side, immediately capitalizing on division and bifurcations? When conversation seems based less on listening and nuance and more on scoring points and eviscerating the perceived virtual opposition? Where is not just the common ground but the higher ground?”

Musa Okwonga | Harvey Weinstein, and the Crisis in Masculinity
This post isn’t so much about the Hollywood producer and more about men of all kinds. Musa tells the brutal story of a friend (Mark) that left the author struck dumb:

“I don’t think I had the perfect response to Mark. Nowhere near, and I’m not proud of it. And that is what this article is about, in a sense. It’s about not waiting to be perfect, it’s about doing the best work we can right now. It’s about drawing a line, and acting – about trying to make sure that men like Mark feel that little bit less entitled, so women can go about their lives in a little less danger. Since then I have tried to be better. And I am not naturally confrontational, so if I can do it then I am sure a lot of other men can too.”

May the wind always be at your back,
Trent

Share Post

Contributor

is the co-founder of On Being and currently serves as publisher & editor-in-chief. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

Share Your Reflection

Reflections

  • Gabby

    Thank you so much for sharing the Musa Okwanga, which I found to be by far the strongest piece I have read on this matter. I recommend it to any reader who has not yet read it.

  • Parker J. Palmer

    Trent Gillis is a dear friend, and I’m very grateful for his support of my writing and his long-time beautiful work at On Being. But I need to correct one thing in his post. I’m not 81. I’m a mere 78. I wish I were 81, because I believe we get smarter as we get older—but I’m not that smart yet! (Trent, by the way, is only 18.)