Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Arrogance of Power

That's what one of my colleagues in the water aerobics class called it, this afternoon, and she was right. The whole incident of Dick Cheney's quail hunt just demonstrates an attitude which, I'm sorry to say, isn't restricted to the present administration, although the present administration is certainly full of it. Among other things.

The attitude I refer to can be summed up as, "I'm really important and the rules don't apply to me." Messrs. Bush and Cheney are the most blatant examples of this attitude; but it exists in other places:

It's playing hell with our international relations, because the administration acts like that on behalf of the United States, and therefore the United States projects the arrogance of power and annoys the crap out of everyone else. We're going to regret that one of these days, maybe in Iran.

It exists in executive suites, where CEOs insist that they themselves are soooo important that they must be paid 431 times as much as their average production workers (see my post, Executive Pay, for more scary numbers).

It exists on the roads, every time anyone runs a red light or a stop sign. I sometimes think I'm the only person left who waits for the light to change before crossing the street; everyone else is too important.

It's everybody who drives an SUV around town, so they can be safe, and high up, no matter what it does to the environment, or the ability of other drivers to see around them (ever try to get out of a parking lot when the view of oncoming traffic is blocked by a parked SUV?).

It's "me first", all the time every time; and the scary thing is that it isn't even restricted to people who have power. Everybody does it, and they use that as an excuse to continue to do it; and it's destroying civil society.

How about a little humility, people? How about a little bit of "Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you?" We all put our pants on one leg at a time. As Bobby Dylan once wrote, "Even the President of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked." As a country, we need to Get Over Ourselves. Common sense and common courtesy will get you through most situations smoothly; but they've both become so rare that we almost can't call them "common" any more. But oh, boy, do we need them.


  1. Anonymous11:04 PM

    Damned well put, hedera. America really does need to get over itself, and maybe move beyond the self-centered phase of obnoxious adolescence. Basically, at 230 years of age, we really should consider growing up and accepting adult responsibilities (hint, hint, W).

  2. Thanks for the support, Anonymous. Don't hold your breath for Dubya to take that hint unless you look really really good in blue...

  3. Anonymous10:14 AM

    Hedera - would that this could be carved into classroom walls, courtrooms, and bank vaults. I was born into the so-called 'me generation' and am beyond tired of the arrogance to which you refer.

    I'm so tired of it I've even started to notice and (attempt to)adjust my own behavior - unheard of for an oh-so-typical Amurrican.

    And speaking of common courtesy - I came here to thank you for showing it to me in your response to my FanAp post yesterday. I value your posts there very highly and was grateful you took the time to respond to mine.


  4. Julia, all any of us can really do is adjust our own behavior. And you're welcome.

  5. Anonymous9:37 PM

    Blue is one of my colors, because my eyes are bluish, and if I wear a sky blue shirt, it gets 'em noticed. Wonder if it would work if I stood there naked and turned blue in the manner of our Pict forebears?

    Common courtesy is sooooooooooooo

    ADHD (Anonymous David the Hyper-liberal Democrat)

  6. David, our Pict ancestors didn't just "turn blue". They brewed a dye from a local plant called woad, and painted themselves with it. Never having seen the dye, I don't know if it'll match your eyes or not, but you can try, if it grows anywhere near you.

  7. Anonymous1:32 PM

    Now THAT would make a splash at felberpalooza! Bet you could really increase attendance!!! :)

  8. Ask Murray if it grows near Grouseland. He probably knows.

  9. Anonymous10:30 PM

    Yeah, that's what I was playing off of. What was it Disraeli said in one of his electoral contests with Gladstone? While your ancestors were running around in the woods painting their bottoms blue, my ancestors were writing the Talmud, or something like that.
    Have to research woad. Will check with Murray about whether it graces Grouseland.

    Stephen, it would be a hoot at Felberpalooza, but what we need is complete ancestral crossover, with Adam painting his bottom blue and running naked through the woodlands around Grouseland (hoping, of course, that Dick Cheney isn't in the neighborhood hunting grouse). Grouse load would seriously harm one's ass.

  10. Anonymous10:44 PM

    Sounds like woad produces an indigo blue dye, which is too dark to accentuate my eyes. On the other hand, since the Picts painted their bottoms woad blue, according to Disraeli, perhaps we could stretch this right into the perennial male complaint...

    Also sounds like it's an invasive, aggressive sucker, so it might be unwelcome at Grouseland. Will have to ask Murray.

    Blue Bottom Boy

  11. Anonymous5:11 PM

    My degree in Biology and several years as a naturalist working for the Ohio State Park system, along with my field guides, leave me in the dark on this one.

    I have no idea what Woad is.

    But who cares? If you guys want to spray paint your asses blue, and run through the woods, have at it. Although I would recommend you least wear hiking boots.

    Bathing suits at the pond are optional, or any where else I suppose. We are liberals after all.

    Guns are as common as sand around here but it's not hunting season and the locals are pretty will versed in shooting etiquette. Injuries are rare. I think that the odds of Cheney's being here are pretty remote.

    Give me a bit more info on Woad (like genus and species) and I can tell you if it's around here. (Blue spray paint is).

    Feel free to make these suggestions at the Felberpalooza site and at FA.

  12. For "what is woad", I refer you to The Woad Page (by Lobster, you really can find everything on the Internet!), maintained by a member of SCA, some of whose members do dye themselves blue and pretend to be Picts. He even gives sources for blue Scottish woad, for those who don't want to roll their own.

    Just for the record, Murray, it's Isatis tinctoria, and it is a relative of indigo but the color isn't as deep. Since it seems to be a native of Northern Europe and Britain, if it grows around Grouseland, it's been introduced...