Smug

I recently read some text online that struck me as “smug”. It was written by a “successful” woman, who makes her “success” well known to others, and who enjoys a comfortably affluent lifestyle. Not content to appreciate her good luck, that her efforts in life have been rewarded, she has enhanced her view of her “superiority” and “rightness” by commenting on how others would benefit from adopting her “correct” perspective on the world.

Her words stuck with me, and since she, and others like her, chose to comment on how others see the world, I will indulge myself and comment on how she sees the world.

smug:
self-righteously complacent; contentedly confident of one’s ability, superiority, or correctness

Smugness is something I strive to avoid. When things are going well for me, or my loved ones, I love it! If I have a talent or a strength, I unabashedly acknowledge it and enjoy it. But I don’t use these gifts as a platform for backhanded snipes at people who are not enjoying my good fortune or strengths. That, to me, denotes a failure of character, not a weakness, a failure.

“First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…” from To Kill A Mockingbird.

We are all tourists in other people’s lives, to my way of thinking. Some people are more difficult for me to understand than others. Smug people, evil people, mean people, petty people, self-righteous people… the list goes on. The thing is, I do not want to walk in their shoes, or to understand their point of view. I just don’t. They are not living in an inner world that I want to visit. All I can offer them is tolerance, until they seek to harm others. I don’t have much in the way of tolerance for those who send verbal, written, or strategic barbs out into the world, and I have no tolerance at all for people who seek to harm others.

As for the merely smug, when they send their barbs, backhanded or otherwise, out into the world, I feel they are offering a relatively benign form of judgement and intolerance. They can be ignored. The danger is in taking them seriously, accepting their parameters as having validity. Often these people have a veneer of legitimacy, because of what they have achieved. But that legitimacy does not represent rightness, or superiority, or correctness; particularly if you consider the state of the modern world. Hitler was a HUGE SUCCESS, but how many of us would look to him for compassion? Success is a highly overrated condition, subject to almost endless combinations and permutations. It certainly does not denote good character.

I dismiss the merely smug, as they dismiss those who are less fortunate than themselves.

I celebrate the lucky people who, when good fortune shines on them, enjoy and appreciate their good fortune, and demonstrate compassion, humility, and other forms of strong character, towards others in differing circumstances.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Little House in the City
-13°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Thursday 5 March 2015
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -12.6°C
Dewpoint: -20.3°C
Humidity: 53%
Wind: NNW 11 km/h
Wind Chill: -19

Country House
-16°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Thursday 5 March 2015
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -15.9°C
Dewpoint: -21.4°C
Humidity: 63%
Wind: NW 15 km/h
Wind Chill: -24

Quote

“Kinder the enemy who must malign us,
Than the smug friend who will define us.”
Anna Wickham
1883–1947

“There but for the grace of God go I.”
John Bradford
1510–1555

7 Comments

  1. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    You’ve given me something to think about, Maggie – perhaps from a slightly different angle. For the most part I see this as you do, but I’ve got to admit that I’m so recently through a threatening time that when it comes to a couple of specific people in some specific circumstances I do feel smug that I’ve survived and am grasping happiness once again.

    At this point, I’m startled when this new edge shows. I don’t really like it much. But I think and hope that it’s simply a scar from the things I’ve been through and as time goes on it will stretch and smooth until it fades and disappears.

  2. I have to chew on this amazing post for a bit. Bravo for your well articulated, raw thoughts. Bravo! Standing ovation!

    *We are all tourists in other people’s live* is fabulous phrasing. And I really liked Teri’s comment comparing smugness to a scar – a badge of sorts, I think. I know when I have those moments of smugness because I’ve *survived* the impossible, my smugness eventually dissolves into pity. Even for the Hitlers of this world – for the torment that strangled and reshaped them into the monsters they became.

    My thoughts are skating all over the place. You’ve given us a lot to think about. Be careful not to be smug with the success of this post. *laughing*.

    Oh! And success is terribly overrated because of the way people often define it. Success is to often a 4-letter word fattened with hubris.

    I have more to say – later. Again, great post! xo

  3. We all have them Teri, those edges!

    I will add that I don’t think that tolerance of others demands that we accept intrusions into our personal lives. Part of tolerance is accepting that good people give what they can, when they can.

    I for one am happy to hear you have survived, and that find yourself in a state of happiness!

  4. Reenie, I guffawed when I read this: “Be careful not to be smug with the success of this post. *laughing*.” 🙂

    And although it is funny, and tickled, it reminds me how important it is to remember that we are sharing, and that none of us operate without a context. I am so lucky to have the context that I do have, so many thoughtful, intelligent, honest (the list is too long for just one comment) people, women and men, in my life. What wealth!!

    Teri’s scar analogy is great, isn’t it!

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