The "virtue" of being humble has been plaguing much of the Western world since the Christian blight robbed us of our indigenous religions some 2000 + years ago. For some reason it is usually frowned upon when one brags or boasts of their accomplishments. Although no one likes an egoist who can find nothing more interesting to talk about than themselves, I'm starting to find people who refuse to acknowledge their own worthy accomplishments to be equally as disingenuous.
I chose the title of this blog because this was a quote that my old roommate Frank was famous for using almost constantly. This man would often show up to parties with the most expensive beer, delicious foods, great CD's, etc. and when he was complimented his response was always the same. The conversation would usually go something like this:
"Hey Frank, that guacamole you made was AMAZING!"
"Dude, I'm working on it."
Frank's "humble" response was so incredibly dishonest I found myself either mocking him or outright laughing at him after awhile. You see, Frank always brought his "A" game to any event, as he had well.... a bit of an inferiority complex. That wasn't what bothered me about him, as honestly, I think you should ALWAYS bring your A game to any event, and let's face it, MOST people have a bit of an inferiority complex. It's better to do something right and perform great deeds than to do something half heartedly. So it really wasn't Frank being a stickler for quality, or being a bit overly self conscious that annoyed me.
It was the fact that Frank was lying that I had a problem with. I'd seen Frank make that guacamole probably 25 times, so it was LOOOONG past the "Dude, I'm working on it" phase. Frank was well aware of how good and well liked his guacamole was, and he had perfected the recipe long before I threatened to strangle him if he didn't stop his glib responses to the compliments people always gave him for it. A simple "thank you" would have sufficed. Hell, that guacamole was so good he could have retorted to compliments with "Yeah I know" and it wouldn't have seemed THAT cocky.
I've actually seen people who are so hell bent on appearing humble (or worse, so self loathing) that they'll actually argue with people when they try to compliment them. One of my ex's was great for this. Not only could she not accept any compliments from me, she'd actually yell at me when I tried to compliment her. One time she made some cookies, and when I told her they were great (which they were) she started flipping out on me, saying "You think that's funny? You're such an asshole!" Needless to say, that relationship was short lived.
Fortunately, people can sometimes learn how to be a bit more down to earth. Case in point- the story of Ed. Ed was a mutual friend of Frank and myself, and had been playing in a new band for awhile. Ed's band was phenomenal and had far superceded everyone's expectations, despite how much he downplayed his impressive musical abilities. Ed quickly proved just how wrong any skeptics were, as his new musical group proved to be an absolute whirling dervish of rock n roll fury when they started playing out live. One day I caught up with him to tell him how much I liked his band, and Ed's reply was (take a guess) "D--- I'- w-----g -- --".
By this point I'd had it with Ed's self deprecating crap, because it was also downright delusional! Ed was hardly the underachiever he thought he was, but he always insisted that he was a failure. The thing was, Ed actually wasn't a failure. In fact, everybody liked him and appreciated whatever creative endeavor he happened to be working on at the time- including me. Sure, Ed had his share of quirks, but who doesn't? Ed just needed to lighten up and appreciate the good things he had in his life, of which there were many. But Ed was such a gloom and doomer that he almost never enjoyed anything. I didn't feel bad for him because his life was miserable, I felt bad for him because he wasn't able to appreciate anything good he actually had in his life.
Some years after not seeing him for awhile, I ran into Ed at a party. His spirits were higher than I'd ever seen before, and he had a big smile on his face. He immediately handed me a CD of his band, and what he said to me after that was monumental.
"Hey Badger, I know you like my band, so here's our newest CD. I think you'll like it, and I'm really happy with the way it came out. In fact, I think it's pretty awesome."
My jaw dropped to the floor when I heard him say this. He was confident, he was satisfied, and for the first time since I'd known him he was happy. He was not the slightest bit cocky or arrogant, and his band's CD was every bit as good as he said it was. I'd only wished he'd found this confidence and optimism about 10 years earlier when I'd first met him, but as the saying goes- better late than never.
I'm not sure exactly what it is that makes the majority of people I know loathe themselves so much, but I would blame much of it on the stranglehold that Christianity has on our culture. Never has there been a more perverted, arrogant and ultimately unnatural worldview than that of Christianity. Just think of some of the "wisdom" one gleans from the teachings of the bible.
"Turn the other cheek" and "The meek will inherit the earth" are two such perverted and misguided lessons the bible teaches. God's followers are referred to as his "flock" while he is our "shepherd". For as much good as there is in the bible (do unto others and though shalt not steal for example) it seems to serve as nothing more than a manual used to brainwash its followers into blind submission. It also purports that god is divine and humanity is sinful simply from the act of being born!
This conditioning does not just infect Christians though, as my ex, Frank and Ed were all staunch atheists. What I don't think they realized though, was just how badly Judeo- Christian thought had shaped their attitudes and worldview. Whether it was Frank's arrogance disguised as humility, or Ed's complete loathing of himself, neither of them had a healthy self image. Luckily though, people CAN change, as Ed proved to me eventually.
It is time for our society and our people as a whole to give up things such as martyrdom and guilt complexes. No matter what your spirituality may be, most of our ancestors came from tribes and societies that once honored and revered their own people. These tribes were not controlled by fear like the Christians, and their old gods served as protectors, guides, and ultimately FRIENDS to their followers here on earth. The Africans had Simbi, the Norse had Thor, the Hindi had Vishnu, the Gauls had Cernunnos, the Greeks had Hercules, and the Persians had Mithras. These were all the protectors and guides of the common man in their societies, and their followers loved and honored them.
Whether you are religious or not, if you want yourself and your loved ones to succeed it's time for the pity party to end. It is far too easy to fall into self hate and defeat, especially now that times are tough. We need to find that voice inside of us that drives us to be successful, and never use self loathing as an excuse or a way to manipulate people. We need to expel "Dude, I'm working on it" and other self hating beliefs back into the sands where they belong- in a body bag no less.