To be a good leader or pursue justice through hell and high water, a person has to have some sense that he is right. A confidence that she has the skills and tools to achieve her goal. The ability to weather short-term setbacks for a long-term goal.
These themes are tightly woven into our elections. In Sarah Palin's bid. In Obama's sense that he is the right man for the time. In McCain's belief that he has earned the presidency. Those who seek public office must believe they have what it takes, that they are better than their opponent.
We in America have a curious relationship with people's high opinions of themselves. We admire belief in one's ability but we draw a fine (and often shifting) line between confidence and arrogance. Hubris.
And hubris is the word for the current times. People pressed ahead with their own agendas without hesitation. Without the burden of mature reflection or, apparently, listening to a dissenting opinion. Blinded -- intentionally or not -- to the possibility of failure by their certainty they were right.
At some point, these necessary things -- the belief in one's own expertise, competence and personal abilities -- hop on over the line into unchecked egotism.
I'm curious to know how that happens.What are the flashing red lights that get ignored when the driver pulls the car onto the tracks?
It's not a question irrelevant to the masses. While we all aren't convinced our destiny is to rule world, I think most of us have some inner faith we have meaningful contributions to make. Being a good parent or a good partner isn't of vital national importance but a magnificent goal many of us reach for. Getting a promotion. Winning a sporting event. These are all things we attain because we believe in our abilities.
So, how do you know the difference between being destined for greatness and just being an egotistical jackass?