I’m re-posting this because, sadly but humanly, it’s still true.
If it weren’t for mixed motives I’d have no motives at all.
I’m an idealist. I want (earnest cliche alert) to make the world a better place.
But I’m also a hopeless egoist, and no matter what I do I can never completely rid myself of the desire to impress. Argggh! (Even now, as I write this, a part of me is hoping you’ll be impressed with my “humility”!)
What can be done? If I shift my focus to killing my self-absorption, the effort itself become an act of self-absorption! In C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, a senior demon advises a junior tempter on how to keep humans stuck in this endless cycle:
Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, “By jove! I’m being humble,” and almost immediately pride—pride at his own humility—will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of…
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