Without giving any names, I’ll simply post a picture of an NFL player who has been at the center of much discussion the last few days:
Here’s a redacted transcript of what he is saying at this time:
“Well, I’m the best corner in the game…When you try me with a sorry receiver like [another player] , that’s the result you’re going to get. Don’t you ever talk about me…Don’t you talk about the best, or I’m going to shut it for you real quick.”
It’s not surprising that a professional athlete might talk like this. As I’ve often noted, college players get penalized if they have outbursts that call attention to themselves; in the NFL, they seem to get bonuses. One more reason that I don’t care for pro football.
What is surprising to me is how many people think that this is somehow *commendable*.
I suppose that a proper rephrasing of that thought is that I am surprised that so many people think that braggadoccio and arrogance are virtues; they LIKE seeing somebody act like that.
(I read where somebody was wondering why this was called “arrogant”. Hmmm…lessee what Merriam Webster thinks:
ar·ro·gance noun \ˈer-ə-gən(t)s, ˈa-rə-\
: an insulting way of thinking or behaving that comes from believing that you are better, smarter, or more important than other people
Okay. The answer to the question “why is this called arrogant” is “because we speak English”)
A long time ago, I wrote a paper that compared Beowulf with Chaucer’s Knight. The idea was to see how the concept of “Hero” had changed with the advent of Christianity. And the main difference was the change in the idea of VIRTUE.
In Beowulf’s time, virtue meant “excellence”, and it seems that (lacking mass communcation) the only way that you would know how excellent a hero was is if he told you. Out loud. Repeatedly.
However, by Chaucer’s time, virtue meant behavior corresponding to Christian ideals – most especially, humility.
Beowulf himself was a braggart, and that was expected of a hero at that time. He was so boastful, I can imagine him as a Hip-Hip gangsta:
Yo, yeah, I done come across the big sea
Cause I be hearing dat y’all be needing me
I be a bad <expletive> wi’ a long resume
O’ poppin’ monsters and demons in de heat o’ de day
And drinkin’ mead wi’ my hoes while de udder knights crash
Don’t be messin’ wi’ my armor, and just pay me in cash…
We have, as a culture, come to appreciate humility and self-deprecation. We find the braggart boring; we assume that most boasts are lies.
Or, rather, that was how we WERE; obviously, the culture has now split. Now a lot of folks find self-aggrandizing behavior to be some sort of ideal, and they look for models to emulate.
I reckon that’s what we get when we value *diversity* – difference for the sake of difference. In biology, “diversity” is what comes from MUTATION – and most mutations DIE.
Which may happen to our culture.
But if it does, we’ll probably brag about it.