The email at the top of my inbox today from Bishop Robert Barron, his daily gospel reflection, speaks to a challenge we face in all aspects of daily life.
A temptation most attractive. A misperception of power that will tug at you and beckon in subtle ways. A siren song of grandiosity. Pulling you away from what is most needed for all at the moment, in favor of what is desperately wanted by you alone.
This sensation is most prevalent when things “seem” to be stacked against you. Consensus is no longer with you. And there appears to be another, more prudent way.
The imagination kicks into overdrive. Rationalization runs rampant. Your pride gets dinged. And bingo. First you feel the welt. Then a bruise appears on your ego.
I know from experience that the ones that go from beep black and blue to yellow remain with you for a very long time.
Bishop Barron shares the state of this affliction in far better words than I:
“…. the basic problem is always the fearful ego. Ego-addicts know that sometimes the best defense is a good offense. If you want to protect the ego and its prerogatives, you must oppress and demoralize those around you.
There is a very unsubtle version of this method: you attack, put down, insult, and undermine those around you.
This is the method of the bully….
…And so I accuse you; I gossip about you; I remind you of your inadequacy.”
One of the things I have learned during my time here is that the thoughts ushering out those words might be targeted towards another. But they go deeper than that. Beyond merely reflecting the individual delivering them.
But more so how they view themselves in that instant.
Exactly how I feel when I choose to let ego take over and rule my moments. Allowing it to overcome what was needed by others in favor of what I wanted for myself.
When ego rules unbridled and unchecked, it will overcome all that is best in you. All you were meant to be. Ego will come to define you. Announcing your arrival well in advance of your presence. You will be known as someone given to injury and insult. An oppressor. Demoralizer. Underminer.
A tough existence despite all of that “promised”upside. Attaining that level of power does not guarantee a commensurate amount of independence. On the contrary. You remain in bondage. Under house arrest. Confined by your self.
A slave to ego.