Hubris today is defined as an overwhelming sense of pride or self- confidence; or even arrogance. Hubris is most often tied to the pride, one of the seven deadly sins. It’s commonly believed that hubris is dangerous for the individual and that it can even lead to a fatal retribution. In Greek literature hubris always led to the protagonist’s downfall. The most notable example is that of Icarus. Icarus was the son of Daedalus, a craftsman so skilled it was said that he could create moving images. Daedalus was eventually exiled and imprisoned in Crete. Longing a sense of freedom and to escape Daedalus made two sets of wings made out of wax so that he and his son could escape the unfortunate circumstance. There were only two problems with the wings that Daedalus warned his son about; the wings couldn’t come to close to the sun nor the sea. Once Icarus put the wings on and began to soar hubris took over and he flew to close to the sun, thus melting his wax wings. Icarus then fell into the sea below which present day bears his name, the Icarian Sea. If only hubris hadn’t taken over Icarus would have lived to successfully escape.
Recently I did a blog about the seven deadly sins. I even included the ones that I suffer from the most; I wasn’t surprised when I found out I suffered the most from pride. That really made me start thinking. It is rumored pride is the only sin that a person can’t beat and that pride comes before a big fall. Since then I have thought about when pride crosses over to hubris and if I am in fact that close. In ancient times mortals had the gods to keep them in place and make sure that they didn’t get out of line. In today’s times we have employers, community and church leaders, and good friends to make sure that we don’t get too full of ourselves. The question becomes what can a person do for themselves to realize what is too far or too much of a sense of pride?
With the twenty-something years I have been alive I have been a fortunate and promising individual. Whenever I looked I was doing something that my peers and even some adults weren’t doing. I was baptized at the age of four by my choice, from there I was one of the three people to start the student government association at my elementary school, in addition being the first year book editor and I would even be left in charge of the office. All of that was by the age of eleven. From there I went on to concur playing two instruments, National Junior Honor Society, overcoming my mother’s passing and the accomplishments continued to add up. Never did I think I was gaining a big ego or overvaluing myself.
Once I reached high school I didn’t slow down, in fact I sped up and added more to my plate. It was finally in high school I gained self confidence. I think then was the first time people began to see me as arrogant or anything of the like. Most of the time I ignored the talk because I have never thought I am better than anyone else; I just figured that people had a problem because I was moving upward and doing a lot in high school, the church, and my community. Once I graduated high school as Salutatorian I continued to do more and more once I reached college. I felt that if I wasn’t moving forward I was moving backwards. Again I encountered the arrogance and stuck up talk, but I ignored it because I know at the end of the day it’s not me.
Reading more and more of Greek literature helped me to understand what some of those characters went through and perhaps where the differences begin to develop in life. The mortals back then had reasons to believe why they were good or possibly even deserving of more as I have. I always figured that arrogance partially came from an empty feeling of entitlement. One thing I know I can do is look back on my accomplishments and feel proud of what I have done in life. The bad part is sometimes looking back all a person can do is see the end result, not the struggling to get there and that someone else was only a half inch away. Truly it is amazing to see just how much of a slippery slope pride becomes. It’s dangerous, it allows a person to believe they aren’t prideful until it’s too late and by that time the person believes they have a reason to be prideful but they don’t realize truly how bad they are. By the time that conclusion is reached hubris sets in and it takes a fatal or near fatal action to place a mortal being in place. With the state of the nation I believe I have come to my low point or significant setback in life.
The trick, the thing that a person can ultimately do is never believe how great they really are. Once you start believing the hype and the way people treat you your ego automatically develops and grows. I am in the state where I know realize what it’s going to take for me to get out of my hubris state and death defying fall; I can no longer look back. There is a term that I am officially adopting, “I am only as good as my next victory”. Now that I am out of college the time for setbacks is over and the pressure to succeed has become that much more real. I know one thing; I won’t go into the history books for hubris.