The Burden of Creativity

Pride is a deadly sin—but did you know the term “hubris,” or, “excessive pride,” was concocted to prevent ancient Greeks from pissing off the gods?

Where are those gods now?

I’ll let it sink in. I’ll wait ;]

In a former post taking issue with “service,” I state, “[S]ometimes we need to test the waters, redirect the channels, or else dam up unchecked streams of historic thought.”

So you see where we stand: perpetuating antiquated thought yet again.

Let’s face this concept head on. Three types of pride appear to exist.

The first type of pride concerns communal belonging. Such a group can be a two-person relationship, a family, a sports team, a state, a nation. The spectator wearing a Pacers shirt displays pride for his state’s basketball team. The girl who waves the German flag at an international conference exhibits pride for country.

In a sort of empathetic joy, the second type of pride concerns savoring the accomplishments of someone for whom one cradles affection. A parent often exhibits pride over the high achievement of their offspring, for example.

So if ‘pride goeth before the fall,’ then, ought we to shun these prides as well?

Nay, for no doubt it is the third type of pride, hubris, with which most take issue. But if Zeus and Athena are now historic pillars of salt, why does common morality continue to condemn self exaltation?image

All efforts to curb self-assurance and dependence serve at least to inhibit individualism for purposes of wider social control and at worst act as psychological self-inhibitors against the godlike ability humans possess in being burdened with creating their own morals.

This former claim invites sociopolitical discourse suited for another time and place, but it is the latter claim on which I seek to end.

Consider the palpable dread lurking behind Sartre’s claim, “Man is condemned to be free.”

No one wants to be condemned, right?

When it comes to resisting collective shifts in morals (which typically effect shifts in law), erected against, say, promoting women’s suffrage, racial integration, and same-sex marriage, we see not only high employment of the slippery-slope argument and common resistance to change, but also a glimmer of collective psychological fear of human ability.

Every new law, every new moral is on its face evidence of humanity’s existential freedom to create. Yet many would rather concoct fake deities, employ poor logical justification, or else subvert their burden of creativity to others—real or imagined—rather than realize their moral foundations float on air.

Although there is wisdom in recognizing limits on personal ability, pride was a prohibition against gods that have long since died. In what other and how many ways are our morals further sullied?

What morals will we concoct in the wake of further slain moral foundations?

“When you stare into the abyss,” it is said, “the abyss stares back at you.” Such elicits angst in most. But it shouldn’t.

Let us turn from acts to shirk our creative burdens. Let us erect a New Morals; outdated beliefs are reserved for the graveyard of the past.

I think.


I am indebted to The Western Humanities by Matthews, Platt, and Noble for their notes on hubris.

Consider a similar approach by reading Discrimination Still Occurs Within an “Enlightened” Society