Is it just me, or do others notice a lot of people around them who are:
2) Obvious about it?
I think everyone’s a bit pretentious (myself included — notice the pedantic use of alliteration and long words in the title –and, oh darn, the use of the word “pedantic” just now). I think that as a Christian, and in particular who experienced a rather long period of life under a pastor who was a big on “mortification” I may be more sensitive to this than others. I was always able to see the dark side of my own actions (for example, “I’m writing this blog post because other people write more interesting things on their blogs and I need to be better than them”). Maybe it’s unhealthy… It’s definitely highly pessimistic. But I can’t help but be somewhat annoyed when people think they’re so clever but they’re not very gracious about admitting their shortcomings. I think I mostly feel that people are “real” when they’re able to say that they may not know what they’re talking about.
So, if anyone ever asks you if your “motives are pure” answer immediately, “No!”. I don’t think this side of the pearly gates we’ll ever have pure motives. I think that friends and relatives admitting faults to each other is amazingly refreshing. And to be clear, this is not the same as inventing trivial, almost good sounding faults. “I’m so sorry to give you such a large and expensive present!”. Honesty, especially when talking about motives makes me feel so much better. “Sorry that I was abrupt with you today” is not nearly as helpful as saying, “I was in a rush and didn’t consider that you had something you needed to tell me.” Or even, “Sorry that I was abrupt but I was angry from before with you and took it out on you.” (By the way, I tend to be abrupt with people when I’m irritated with them and I know that this last statement is one that I should say more often.) There’s something there that isn’t usually mentioned in an apology… It’s a statement that you didn’t do something right but now you’d like to make it right. It’s not passing the buck or making excuses. We always can make excuses (I was in a rush, it was a stressful day, you were hard to deal with, etc.) but the reality is that these simply don’t help the person that we’re supposedly apologizing to. And the point is to help them.
But I’ve wandered a little bit — I was talking about pretentious people. From the Free Dictionary I get the following definition:
Claiming or demanding a position of distinction or merit, especially when unjustified.
So, my gripe is that everyone, absolutely everyone has tons of problems and should be awfully careful that they don’t act as if they deserve distinction or merit for their actions. And furthermore, that being humble will go a long way to really connecting with people. I was just listening to some lectures by Gordon Clark from a class that he taught. He was asking students in the class if anyone knew what the “Lycopersicon esculentum” was and making it sound like they should. No one knew. But instead of blithely going on and pretending that this was everyday stuff to him, he sort of stumbled over the term himself making it abundantly clear that he had simply written the name down himself and probably wouldn’t remember it tomorrow. I know this is trite example but it was something fresh in my mind. He could have made himself seem incredibly smart but he instead really connected with his students by admitting that he didn’t have this stuff memorized and then went on to make his point.
I was watching (I’ll admit it) a rather horrible show called The Next Great American Band. The idea is that bands get up and perform and are one after the other eliminated until the voters (the watcher’s of the show) have determined the final band that “makes it”. Anyway, the point is that after each band performs the judges make some statements about how they think the performance went and what needs improvement. With one exception, all the bands said things like “That’s just who we are”, “that’s how YOU feel”, “We don’t agree”, etc. It was kind of disgusting. Because they “made it” to the show, they were too proud and self-important to admit fault at all. I thought some of the bands did well, but I was immediately disgusted afterward when they acted so pretentious about their performance. It’s so commonplace now in America to act like this and it’s sort of sickening.
This has been sort of a long post and I don’t know what else to mention. It just bothers me a lot and it seems like people don’t realize how bad they make themselves look. Doing something stupid makes you look bad but not admitting it or making excuses makes you look much worse than just stupid. Being smart makes you look good, but being smart and admitting that you don’t have all the answers make you truly seem wise. And that’s what we should all try to be!