How often did you catch yourself opinionated about something that when you discuss it with someone in opposition you find yourself getting insanely mad and wishing secretly to harm them? Have you ever been in a situation where you deliberately mocked someone’s looks, status, race, gender, or beliefs just because you think you are better than them? Do you believe that because some people do not give you the attention you think you deserve, it’s ok to hurt them?
Could Those Acts Be a Sign That There Is Something Wrong Going On? Could Be a Problem about Ego?
There are two theories that explain how the ego functions. The first one, adopted until the beginning of the twentieth century, explains that too high a view of yourself is the root of all evil. It is the number one reason why the crime and violence prevail in the world and why people are abusive and cruel and do the bad things they do.
The second theory, a contemporary one, explains that people misbehave due to lack of self-esteem. Both points of view address the ego suggesting that the problem is either having too much of it or too little of it. But have you thought about the possibility that it’s not about having a too high view of oneself or lacking self-esteem? Could it be that our ego is actually in pain? Timothy Keller in his book “The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness” explains,
Have you thought about the fact that you do not notice your body parts unless there is something wrong? You do not go thinking about how wonderful your toes are or how important your elbows are. Our body parts don’t call our attention unless they are in pain. And there is no doubt that ego is in pain too and there is something wrong about it. It makes us want approvals about the way we look and makes us think about how people treat us. Then, you find yourself saying my feelings are hurt. The truth is it was your ego which got hurt and not your feelings. Walking does not hurt our toes unless something is wrong and the same goes for ego.
Ego is painful and busy being competitive, comparing, and boasting. C. S. Lewis in his book “Mere Christianity” points out that “pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about.”
Ego has been the main cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. It is what makes a political leader or a whole nation go on and demand more and more. Throughout history there were well renowned characters that exhibited this clearly.
A highly animated and charismatic orator, Hitler is regarded as one of the most significant leaders in World history. The military-industrial complex he fostered pulled Germany out of the post-World War I economic crisis and, at its height, controlled the greater part of Europe.
Hitler’s attempt to create a Greater Germany (Grossdeutschland), specifically the annexation of Austria (Anschluss) and the invasions of Czechoslovakia and Poland, was one of the primary factors leading to the outbreak of World War II in 1939. The embrace of total war both by the Axis and Allied powers during this time led to the destruction of much of Europe. Hitler is almost universally held responsible for the racial policy of Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, and the death and displacement of millions occurring during his leadership.
According to definition of terrorism today, what Hitler did was an act of terrorism. Terrorism is driven by numerous factors. But the only common factor between terroristic acts of today and of the past is human beings. All it takes is one human being with too high a view of himself to destroy the lives of millions.
Where Does the Role of God Come in All of This?
You might ask yourself how God would permit such evil from only one man. Isn’t it unfair that millions have to suffer because of only one human being? We all struggle with this question. Even saints might at some point struggle with it. Quoting Dr. Norman Geisler:
Well, I think that was answered in 400 by St. Augustine when he struggled with the same problem. “If God is the author of everything, and evil is something, then it would seem like God is the author of evil.” But the fallacy is the second statement. Evil is not a thing. God created only good things. Evil is a privation or a lack.
God created only good things. He gave human beings the prerogative of choice so that they would go willingly outside themselves and choose not to be self-consumed, to experience the liberty that resigns in self-forgetfulness. He has seen that in a world of free creatures there was a deeper happiness that is more perfect than what an automated world would ever experience. He created us with the ability to let go of ego. If God at one point chose to force someone into doing only good things and deprive them from their right of free will, we will find ourselves living in an automated world. And this is never the solution. God gave us the most sacred gift of the prerogative of choice and people abuse this gift, choose to be self-consumed, and choose ego even if its cost was the lost lives of millions of people.
What we witness today is explicit terrorism. We see the violent acts and see the judgment of terrorists is a necessity, and it is. But we never contemplate enough on what leads human beings to do so. We just treat the symptoms and never the disease. It all starts on a small scale and on a personal level. That person you met that you thought is full of ego bullying people around him, that person who could be you and me, is the same human being who chooses by his own free will to eradicate entire nations because he thinks his race is better, his religious beliefs are better, his worldview is better. Being consumed about only oneself is the disease. The “it’s all about me” culture is the root of all evil.
- “The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness” by Timothy Keller
- “Mere Christianity” by C. S. Lewis