We're Confident We're Not ConfidentCatching up on our reading, we've read quite a few excellent posts today - most notably over at Anti-[Everything] - who has a great post on patriotism and the flag. We also spent a little time in a bookstore and between all these sources came up with about a dozen good ideas for topics. Unfortunately, we didn't write any of them down and we can no longer remember most of them. Such is the life of an omnipotent being who is not quite omnipotent enough to possess a good memory. Our poor memory makes us more than a little humble and so brought us to one topic we found intriguing.
It's A Good Thing
In our society, confidence is usually viewed as a good thing. It is the quality that helps people to rise above daunting odds and to accomplish things of greatness and small things as well. We envy it in sports players, business titans, and great actors. BASE jumpers have it in spades and who can look up to a Terry Fox or a soldier missing leg and learning how to walk again without seeing it? Each battles long odds or perfects a craft in a way few others can. Sometimes they are brave, other times just tenacious. Often they are willing to take a risk based on little more than their gut feeling. Confidence is the basic building block of heroism, success, and winning. It's also damn handy in just plain everyday life.
Sometimes though, people only give the illusion of confidence. For example, we are not particularly confident most of the time, though we're told we put up a reasonably good front. We constantly question ourselves and what we do and how we say it. We wonder what it is that makes one post work over another or why we sometimes can prevail over truly frightening odds while losing to something that is relatively easy. We don't consider ourselves remarkably talented or exceptionally smart. We're vaguely aware that others sometimes see something in us that we seldom see ourselves. We don't think we are the dullest hoe in the shed, but we're far from the sharpest either. We look at ourselves as basically your run-of-the-mill deity with too many opinions and far too much time on his hands.
When we look at others, we're sometimes awed. But sometimes we look at people and see what they may call confidence in a completely different light. It seems there's a razor-thin line between confidence and arrogance, between mild swagger and embarrassing hubris - and once you fall over it you look like a buffoon. Sometimes you even become dangerous.
Crossing the Line
The President - and for that matter many in his administration - are cases in point. They've long-since run past the line between confidence and mere arrogance. They've leapt over the hurdle of hubris and are running headlong toward a sort of penultimately dangerous degree of confidence. As a result, people are dying based almost solely on what their guts tell them. It doesn't get much more dangerous than that.
Chosen with great confidence, most of the President's men are cut from the same cloth. They're largely men of wealth and prestige. They are so confident in their abilities than no one, not even their closest confidants, can dare tell them they are wrong. One claims God talks to him - surely enough to give you an inflated sense of self importance - others assume he and they are right and so believe they can bend the entire world to the same conclusion. "Trust us" they say. "We KNOW we're right."
What IS the Answer
We freely admit that we have absolutely no confidence in the answer to some very important questions - what defines confidence, when does it get out of control, and how can we keep that from happening? We have a feeling that we desperately need an answer to that one and, omnipotent or not, we don't have the answer and aren't confident we ever will.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, February 18, 2006