It is easy to wrap oneself in the red and blue ribbons around the neck of the winner. Adorning oneself with gold and silver and bronze pennants proclaims superiority on the scale of human accomplishment. But it’s all a show. It’s a testament to the strength of the narcissistic ego and the power of self-importance.

Watching the prancing and preening—the dancing and strutting—makes my gut tighten. It makes me hope I’m not looking in a mirror; I plead not to see my face on those hollow, vacant bodies I find so distasteful.

I contemplate for a while on this and conclude, no, it’s not me. At least not often. But even occasionally is too frequent, in my estimation.

Then again, the strutting and preening may not be conceit but, instead, cover; cover for esteem that keeps company with the soles of the foot rather than the chin raised in pride.

If I were compassionate, I wouldn’t jump to conclusions about people whose self-important behaviors so offend me. If I were compassionate, I would question what injury might have prompted the display of such armor. I would ponder what painful wound might have triggered the use of a pompous veil of arrogance.

But my immediate reaction is instant and unwavering; merciless. And then, I react to my unkindness by trying to find my compassion. And then I bounce like an over-full balloon away from that emotion, worrying that I am being played in two directions.

And then I find what I don’t want to find; I’m a damn cynic.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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