The burden of ego

Why do so many of us flounder under the weight of our ego? Why is it so difficult for us to concede when we are in the wrong? Why is it so difficult for us to interact normally with everyone without being conscious of our status or supposed superiority? Why is it so difficult for us to apologise for the hurt we have caused?

Is it because of the false sense of ego we have nurtured and fostered over the years? More often than not, it flows from a sense of power that someone can yield by virtue of his wealth or entitlement not realising that power can depart from the powerful. “But what are kings when regiment is gone, But perfect shadows in a sunshine day?” says Christopher Marlow’s Tamburlaine. There are also those who lack in self-confidence, but strut their egos never the less. Ego prevents a man or woman from even a gesture of goodwill, a kind word or a helping hand. We see such people everywhere, in offices where they pull rank and ride roughshod over others’ feelings. We see them in homes where power is exercised with arrogance in the name of patriarchy or hierarchy.

Without dispute, we should have a healthy, positive ego, with a legitimate right to believe in what we consider is right, an ego that does not believe in bending before what is wrong, and the “small voice” which whispers to us that we are in the right.

With the courage of conviction, we must be in a position to defend our beliefs and values. Every person is born with a sacred inalienable sense of the self that cannot be shattered or allowed to be humiliated.

Pride has a legitimacy that arrogance does not. When an individual is stripped of his ego, we rob him of his self-respect and decimate his public and private image. It is precisely those who have a positive ego who can respect the ego of another.

Love and compassion places the ego on the back burner and binds every one with that thread of humanity which differentiates us from the other orders of creation. “There but for the grace of God go I,” Albert Einstein said while replying to a 15-year-old-girl, when she asked him for help with a homework assignment. He sent her a page full of diagrams with the reassuring words “Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics. I can assure you that mine are much greater.” Genius with humility. We are all small in time and space and an ego trip is a journey to nowhere.

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