Monday, November 29, 2010

hubris (lyn)

Not often do I remember when I learned the definition of a word.  But I remember this one.

It was around 1978 and I was living in Chicago.  My boyfriend at the time was talking and used the word hubris.  I had never heard the word before and did not know its meaning.  He explained it to me, and while I remembered its definition, in 32 years I can’t ever recall using it.    But twice this week I thought of it.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, I was excessively confident about my ability to eat whatever I wanted, knowing that any weigh I gained would be temporary.  Applying the word hubris to my behavior may have been a stretch, but I did think of it as I had my second helping of pie on Thanksgiving day, having just had a burger and fries the night before.

Tonight I think of it again.  Robyn and I see a screening of the movie Inside Job, about the global financial meltdown of 2008.  Unlike other catastrophic disasters, this one is manmade.  And most horrifying, the people making it still refuse to admit to any wrongdoing.  Most of them are still in powerful positions.  These are brilliant men (yes, they are mostly men) whose motivation for wealth lets them justify their actions.  Heads of investment banks.  World-renowned economists.  Smart scholars.  All of them have become exceedingly wealthy as the rest of us have lost jobs, houses, and life savings.  

I read a definition that says, “In many cases, people overcome by hubris will bring about their own downfall.”  Shamefully in this case that hasn’t happened.

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