The Importance of Being Arrogant

* A note on an Independence Day

MOST OF US don’t value arrogance. We dislike the cocky ones walking with heads held high and noses up-turned. We shun colleagues who are fond of boasting. Only rarely do we like those that display overpride and overconfidence in themselves while giving others little consideration in return. Befriending horn tooters is a hard thing to do.

Our society puts cooperation, compromise, harmony, and respect high above many other values. Ample room is always available for good qualities, but no, not for arrogance. Arrogance is bad, and we must be good.

Our great, great grandparents first taught our great grandparents, then our grandparents fisted it in to our parents that we be considerate, modest, respectful, polite and friendly. The process repeats with our parents passing it on us (and pretty likely so will we on our children).

At certain points in life we were each curious to question such values. Somewhere along the path, though, curiosity waned, and the drives for self-exploration withered with departed chidhood. We ended up sticking to old values like a blind faith. We learned to accept and join the crowd of commonalities.
Early in life we found what an unfriendly world it is we live in. We sought solace to agreeableness as a mode thinkable of survival. Did we ever mind falling into the abyss of modesty, compromise, or commonness, as long as we could stick together? No, we Indonesians have decided to be liked and make as many friends as possible. By this, a peculiar trepidation of being disliked developed, and together we formed a “friendly” mass.


Any self-claimed friendly nation such as ours places friendliness in a lofty pedestal for friendliness is a very important matter. As a nation we mustn’t be cocky but rather ought to be modest and wear our best smiles—if possible the ones that can best obscure conspicuous lies, hypocrisy, and stupidity accumulating over generations. No man being an island entirely by itself, co-operation with other nations is necessary to pursue what we aspire as one nation. We do know this, for we are a sensitive nation. We do know, for instance, that globalization offers yet another uncertainty in which we are doomed to lose out. We know that international relation and co-operation has mostly been mere business. Fine; a ll we want is just be friendly. Why not aim at something a little more noble, or something higher such as at being number one? Ah, come on. (Someone would say, :”Ojo ngoyo lho mas....”)


Ojo ngoyo (or Don’t persist) rings like a soothing saying--especially to wounded losers. This attitude arguably originates from the time of extreme constraint where room for improvement was infinitesimal, or opportunities extremely odd--such as during colonialism.

And the effect of colonialism seems like a remnant disease. Its worst, most dreadful after-effect isn’t physical. It is mental full of chronic disease, one example of which is this sort of attitude. We might have adopted it to avoid or redeem continual frustration. It is not difficult to see how it comfortably makes us dumb and meek, serving like a cheap, modesty-layered candy that arrests persistence, impedes tenacity, reduces standards and limits our own dreams, all which significantly determining our every achievement and, in turn, our total accomplishment as a nation.


The question is: are we right in blaming it all on colonialism? If this assumption is sound, are we still cling to it today, after over 50 years of independence? More than ever, as far as this ngoyo attitude is concerned, redefining of basic concepts is necessary.

Back to arrogance, arrogance, if but little, does show respect--at least, self-respect. It shows power and authority—at least the shadows of them. Arrogance rules the world! In arrogance exist the seeds of masterworks, void of the seeds of banality and mediocrity.

As it takes all kinds of people to make this world, thank God these people exist. Not only because they save us from being overbored with dull politeness, but because it is impossible to totally dislike them. We are not capable of just hating those who blow trumpets. Sometimes we admire the tunes. We just hide such admiration somewhere. For giving life more color at least, we ought to be thankful to them.

Only a few dare to be arrogant, for arrogance calls for courage and skills, too. True, playing for a demanding audience requires courage. Blowing a real trumpet needs skills; cacophony and good melody are two different things. When it is justifiable, arrogance is no more. It becomes music. And “music is all of heaven above that we have below.”