Self-Respect and the lack of it

Vices: too much ego & too little ego.

Too much ego can lead to:

    1. Arrogance, selfishness, greed, a sense of entitlement to whatever one wants. This leads to serious ends/means problems: such a     person feels entitled to do whatever it takes to get what s/he wants. This leads to abuses of ends/means reasoning.

    2. Intellectual arrogance: being too sure that one is right in what one believes. This tends to lead one to feel justified in doing whatever it takes to achieve one's goals. It elbows out any humility that might lead one to ask whether it was right to harm people for one's goals.

Too little ego can lead to :

1. excessive conformity, even servility, because one does not believe that one's own opinions are worth standing up for. It is very hard to have integrity if one has no respect for one's moral identity or for the kind of person one believes one is.

Shari Sims "Shyness"

        2. doing evil to assert to the world that one exists, that one should be paid attention to.

Arsonists are often trying to assert their power, their efficacy, to let the world know that they matter. "It’s a power trip," said San Diego fire investigator Fred Herrera, "They’re able to cause all these emergency personnel and media and these people in their homes to pay attention to what they did." [SB Sun, 10/27/03]

 There was a case of a man who got on a bus intending to rob it, but the driver ran off with the case. Infuriated he took the passengers hostage. But unfortunately for everyone, the bus had huge side windows that allowed the hijacker to be seen clearly and the police failed to keep news cameras out, so that the hijacker could be seen on TV. There is evidence that he was more violent, more extreme, than he might otherwise have been because he was suddenly visible to the world.

Cruelty and fear are man-made and the men who perpetrate them are ruled by them. Such men are only half-made things. They live out their unresolved lives by attempting to destroy anything that challenges the void in themselves. A fear-filled man transposes his inadequacy onto another. He blames them, hates them, and hopes to rid himself of his unloved self by hurting, or worse, destroying them.

--Brian Keenan

3.. a need to show that one is superior to another by showing that one has power over him or her.

We see a lot of cases where raped women are incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, sometimes surreptitiously. We even have a few cases where victims have been tagged. The rapist will use a felt-tip pen to mark his conquest just as a gang banger leaves his tag on a wall. --

            Gail Abarbanel, director of the Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center, quoted in Steve Lopez’s column in the LA Times, 10/26/03

Jacobo Timerman was tortured in Argentina under the military regime of the 1970’s. He noticed that "sometimes a bond developed between torturer and victim, who could come to need each other. The victim could need a human voice. ‘For the torturer, it is a sense of omnipotence. . . the torturer needs to be needed by the tortured.’ He described one of the men offering him a woman prisoner to have sex with. His refusal made the man angry: ‘In some way he needs to demonstrate to me and to himself his capacity to grant things, to alter my world, my situation. To demonstrate to me that I need things which only he can provide.’

4. Bigotry stemming from a need to feel superior to someone. If one's group is superior to another's, then no matter how lowly an individual one is, one can still feel superior. Tom Ewell's  bigotry stems from this need to feel superior to someone. He may be poor ignorant white trash but he can still feel superior  to any black person.



Virtue: self-respect.

To have self-respect is to have neither too high nor too low an opinion of oneself. It is to value one's integrity, to be capable of shame if one fails to live up to one's own opinion of what one should do and how one should be.  Self-respect is the foundation of  respect for others. One of the most unfortunate effects of bigotry is that it tends to lower the self-esteem of the group that is its target. It's difficult to maintain self-respect if the society around one continually expresses its contempt for you and its belief that you are inferior to them.