|(This is all that politicians should be allowed to say until one month before the election.)|
However, even old stoics like me, who are stolid and composed in the face of the vagaries of our hyperactive political scene, can, on rare occasions, become truly alarmed by what we see there. Amid the current crop of presidential
|("The Demagogue," José Clemente Orozco, 1946; public domain)|
Now, obviously, the main reason that such politicians are gaining a following is that they say things that tap into the deeply-held grievances of certain people against recent government policies. However, from a traditional Christian perspective, it's worth saying that such politicians openly display the single most dangerous vice of all: pride. What?! Is pride a vice? In our current speech, it has become of a virtue--"pride" has become a synonym for confidence and healthy self-esteem.
|(From a print of the seven deadly sins, France, c.1621)|
Why would pride be so dangerous, when it seems to be so common? For the very sensible reason that it is the mother of all other vices. Whatever moral downfall you might think of--greed, violence, concupiscence, or a thousand others--they all begin with a rank self-centeredness that make them possible. Therefore, of all the vices, pride is the one that most requires our careful attention.
|("Three Camaldolite Monks at Prayer," Alessandro Magnasco, 1714)|
Those habits of the early Christian saints are the sorts of habits that build true humility, and they are agonizingly hard to accomplish. If you want a real challenge in life, if you want to accomplish something immeasurably more difficult and more momentous than amassing billions of dollars or becoming president of the United States, then try learning true humility. That is a rare accomplishment, but it is something that is desperately needed in our day.