When Self-Esteem Becomes Self-Destruction

by Robert Arvay, Contributing Writer

When the Founding fathers designed our nation, they knew that they were forming a government, not of angels, but of sinners. Their wisdom, founded in the Bible, has made all the difference in the world. It made the difference between liberty and tyranny, between a nation devoted to justice, and one devoted to evil. No, we are not a nation of angels, but rather, a nation guided by Biblical principles, ideas that guide us toward a more perfect union. Our progress toward this more perfect union is faltering and stumbling, but historically, we have been stumbling in the right direction.

There is a contrary world view. In that view, people are basically good. All it takes is but a wise and benevolent government to permit that goodness to express itself. In this view, the so-called “thin veneer of civilization” that keeps us civilized, is instead a thick wall of inherent virtue.

Which view is correct? Are we basically good creatures, or as the Bible tells us, is our every inclination toward sin? (Genesis 8:21)

Years ago, educators noted that children with low self-esteem did not perform well in school or in life in general. Low self-esteem led to low expectations, and in the worst cases, to despair and even suicide.

That problem has largely been solved, only to be replaced by the opposite one—high self-esteem. People today seem to think very highly of themselves. This has led to—here is the irony—poor performance in school, and in life in general. It leads to a false sense of entitlement, and to expectations that are unrealistic. When those expectations are not met by reality, then anger and resentment begin their fatal journey through a person’s life.

When we have unrealistically high self-esteem, we may begin to think like this: “Why does that person over there have more than I do, when I deserve it just as much, or more?” How did they get it, when I did not? They must have cheated. They must have some unfair advantage. It must be racism, or “lookism,” or their rich daddy. It must have been anything except my lack of talent, fortune and hard work.

Therefore, I have a right to take it from them.
To be sure, life is unfair, sometimes cruelly so. It’s not fair that I am too short to play basketball, too stupid to be a mathematician, too untalented to be a movie star, and too—you get the idea. Many people say of themselves, I could have had so much more if only I had been born rich, or been taller, or had more talent—or had beige skin instead of brown.

Few people say to themselves, I could have been so much more—not had more, but been more—if only I had worked harder, been more disciplined, less self-indulgent, and not felt entitled to the fruits of other peoples’ labors. The key to this is to focus not on what one has, but on what he or she is. A large portion of what we are depends on what we make of ourselves, what we do, and with what attitude we live our daily lives.

Here is why the Biblical world view of the Founding Fathers is so critical. The Founders had a healthy mistrust of powerful, centralized government. Such a government’s every inclination would be to more power, and that power would be exercised not to the benefit of the people, but of those in power. They knew that any viable Constitution must restrain the government and empower the people.

It is why the present president’s anti-Christian views are so damaging to the nation. He has openly stated that the Constitution is wrong, in that it says what the government cannot do to us. It should, he says, require the government to do more for us. This of course means more power for the government, less power to the people.

The Founders foresaw the tyranny that must arise from such a world view. They knew that when half (plus one) of the voters could tax the other half to support them, they would tax them ruinously. We are not, after all, angels.

The Founders did not design a system of fairness. They designed a system of laws. They did not design a government to give people happiness, but rather, to enable us to pursue happiness for ourselves, within those laws.

The failure to understand this world view, and to live accordingly, is what is wrong with the world. It explains why the nice little old lady shoplifts, and why entire nations of civilized people embark on genocide. At the heart of both of these crimes is the same feeling of entitlement, of having been cheated.

If we do not return to our founding principles, our Biblical principles, and soon, then we will go the way of other nations, nations that have brought themselves to ruin.

Can it happen here? It will. Are we too good to let that happen? We are not. Let us then, as a nation, and as individuals, abandon high self-esteem, and instead humble ourselves. Let us ask God for forgiveness, and rely not on our virtue, but on His mercy.

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