Hubris

Tin Bartolome

Posted at Apr 30 2016 02:44 AM

Kayabangan.  We remember people because of this.  But kayabangan may be mababaw or shallow—as in flaunting wealth or new objects we have acquired.  Sometimes, as in Greek tragedies, kayabangan is hubris—“foolish and irrational pride” as described by Wiki.

Characters such as Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby and Achebe’s Okonkwo displayed hubris.  In Greek mythology, any mortal who dared defy the gods was said to display hubris and was ultimately punished.

A Pompous Person

I recently witnessed hubris:  arrogance, haughtiness, self-importance, pomposity or pride.  A few weeks ago, we attended the first meeting for a workshop where we were to assist the facilitators in making sure that discussions were focused on what needed to be done.  There was this young person who came an hour late and though she apologized for her tardiness, ended her spiel with “I was told that I should come just an hour ago—I do not really know why I’m here!”  

I was a bit amused when she said that, but I was completely turned off when she proposed that those present form groups so each group could focus on a particular part of the seminar workbook.  She said that we could then answer the questions of our co-participants or clarify matters raised during group activities.  

Some of us objected because we were all learning something new and her statement implied that we could learn enough over the weekend to answer questions!  She then said it was okay if we did not want to help!  To me, that was hubris!

Attitude On Air

Some media people also display hubris when interviewing their guests:  when they use their guests to show off, sometimes by competing with them.  One does not put a guest to shame or unnecessarily puts him on the defensive—even if/especially if he is paying for the exposure.  Ever notice how some hosts would ask questions mechanically and fail to sense loaded answers that need to be explained?  Really good show hosts blend with the set and allow their guests to shine.   Decent hosts do not make their guests feel indebted to them for the television exposure.

“Parang wala lang, ha!”

I once had household help who was older than me who took control of the house.  My parents were both ill then and we needed extra help.  She had initiative but often went overboard. She would use things without the owners’ permission.  I allowed her to take her daughter in, but the daughter would not bring packed food to caregiver school, so our meals would be cooked around 4 pm so that when she came home, she’d have a hot meal waiting for her—and our dinner would be her leftover.  I tried to keep my cool for months, and then I learned that she’d cook large batches of laing (taro leaves in coconut milk) to give away to neighbors so that she could borrow money from them.  That was it! We sent her and her daughter home and on the day that she left, she had the temerity to say, “Pag nagkita tayo sa probinsya, parang wala lang ha!” (When we bump into each other in the province, act like nothing happened, okay?”)

Kayabangan lang

Anyone can display hubris—it cuts across socio-economic status, generations and even gender.  It is not surprising that we see this even among candidates hoping to become President or Senator.  Frankly, I do not see anything positive about it.

It is indeed tragic if a person has nothing more than kayabangan—hubris—because more than defying authority, it hinders rational thinking, critical analysis—and crumbles in the face of truth.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.