Sunday, April 5, 2015

Megalothymia and My Easter Story

While reading last night I came upon the word, "megalothymia." As I write this, my template does not recognize it as a word. Here's a definition of our new word, megalothymia:

Megalothymia is a term coined by Francis Fukuyama. It’s a common mistake to think Fukuyama simply took Plato’s concept of “thumos” or “thymos” and put a “mega” in front of it because we all know from the Transformers and Toho Productions that “mega” makes everything more cool.

But that’s not the case. Megalothymia is a neologism of megalomania (an obsession with power and the ability to dominate others) and thymos, which Plato defined as the part of the soul concerned with spiritedness, passion, and a desire for recognition and respect.

Fukuyama defined megalothymia as a compulsive need to feel superior to others.

The author adds this paragraph:

And boy howdy, do we have a problem with megalothymia in America today. Everywhere you look there are moral bullies utterly uninterested in conversation, introspection, or persuasion who are instead hell-bent on grinding down people they don’t like to make themselves feel good. 

Without a doubt, this caused a tremendous pause as I reflected back upon my own life and experiences.

In 2007, I was absolutely blessed. I unzipped my old life like a haz mat suit and stepped out. Of all the events that happened to me in 2007-2008, nothing caused me to pause longer than when a mentor of mine posed this question, "Why do we hurt others to make ourselves feel better?" 

I wish that I could tell you that I had an intelligent response. I mulled it over for weeks. 

Then one day it hit me. We do that because we feel bad about ourselves. We are trying to justify, rationalize, and cling to some accepted belief or tenet in our lives that we believe to be true- and we are willing to run just about anyone down to make our voice heard and win some battle that exists only in our heads. Some need to feel superior. It is a sickness. A spiritual sickness.

Think about the people in your life, our "leaders", or even ourselves. Do you think megalothymia is a problem? 

Not only have I been subjected to it- I have retaliated in kind. I might very well have soldiered on- like some unconscious egomaniac such as I was- had I not found a God of my understanding who intervened. I became teachable again. 

So here's the 64,000 dollar question. 

What is going to stop a Godless society hell bent on megalothymia? Who is going to intervene? Or do we as a society and culture just soldier on- belittling, condemning, and hating anyone who disagrees with our opinions and positions which then in turn creates more retaliation and hatred? Do you think that is the solution?

If you don't believe in a power greater than yourself or some sort of God- please do the following. Strip down naked, stand in front of a full length mirror, and say out loud, "Behold the greatest power in the universe." And know that if you are correct- we are all in a lot of trouble.

In 2007, I was desperately seeking sanity in my life. I didn't find it by running other people down. That much I can assure you. I found sanity when I became aware of my own world class ego that desperately wants to think it is more intelligent, far wiser, and more emotionally intelligent than every one else. When I realized this of course had always been nothing but faulty opinions- I began to question all of the other ridiculous beliefs which I had been clinging to for much of my life. (I once heard this described by a man who said, "I know how nuts I have become when I actually start believing my own bullshit.")

And oddly, I became grateful and just a little bit humble as I began to feel a little shame for having acted like a superior human being most of my life. I began to realize how lucky I was to have everything I wanted- my family, a home, money, all of my toys. Surely I thought, I can be a better human being than the one that I had been. Maybe a little humility, gratitude, and genuine empathy can help me find sanity. And it did.

It was Easter week, 2008. 

Today I wake up grateful, just a little bit humble, and free from all of that emotional insanity that once consumed me. It's not perfect- but it is a tremendous improvement over what once was.

Easter is about hope and rebirth- and it happens every spring which seems oddly appropriate to me. I wish each and every one of you a wonderful Easter. Thanks for stopping by.    








2 comments:

IRISH said...

Happy Easter to you Brian.

Anonymous said...

Brian, I am amazed at how often I come here and read your musings and feel like I wrote them, if I had your writing skills.

I probably should be paying you for the psych treatments you provide me.

Thanks.