Wednesday, 6 June 2007

A Taxi Conversation

Whenever anyone says the word EGO, the first notion is extremely negative – of a person who blows his/her own trumpet, is completely insensitive to others, highly unlikeable, pompous, bombastic and so on and so forth. But I wonder how any of us exist without an ego. For an ego, in technical terms is what makes each one of us conscious of ourselves. It is the ‘I’ and however much interdependent we may be, the need and will to co-operate comes out of an overriding concern for the well being of the ‘I’ and the ‘ME’.

I was in a taxi with two of my colleagues on my way to grab some lunch the other day when one of them, after a heated conversation on the phone, exclaimed, “I hate people with egos!” It is at such times that I feel we use the English language too loosely, that words loose their true meaning, that we say things we do not mean and mean things that we do not say. I pointed out to her that it is people with ego issues that are a problem, not people with egos as such.

And that precisely is my whole point here. What is unlikeable is the fact that people think that concern for oneself and one’s betterment must necessarily involve pulling another person down; that there is only room for one person in this world. Completely untrue. I believe it is possible to better yourself without hurting other people – whether in a materialistic or emotional sense. In fact it is necessary that it be so. If the sole purpose of one man’s progress is another man’s destruction then mankind would have become extinct long ago and I wouldn’t be writing this. However, interdependence works only when each of us recognises the importance of independence.

I know I sound extremely Rand-ian here, but I think she has a point. Men must interact as traders. We must respect each others ego. And such comments as the one made in the taxi serve only to irk me not only because of improper use of knowledge but also because most people just don’t realise what they are saying; that they tare being hypocrites when they make statements like that without qualifying them.

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