Recently, I published a post around one of my favorite quotes from Ayn Rand:
“Honor is self-esteem made visible.”
As usual, readers provided outstanding and insightful comments, interpreting the quote from various angles.
One, from my friend and frequent commentor, Steve Boyett, was rather disturbing to me though. The reason is that — if what he wrote is true — it would poke a hole in the saying that I really didn’t see, rendering it not true 100 percent of the time.
He suggested that a thief (which, could include a burglar, a dishonest business person, a dictator, etc.) could possess high self-esteem based on their ability to steal. I countered that — while they might feel a certain pride at their success as a thief or thug — it is difficult for me to imagine (even if they don’t care that what they are doing is wrong) their actually having high self-esteem as a result.
Steve then wrote: “There are plenty of people in this world with plenty of ‘self-esteem’ who lack honor. As a matter of fact, it boils down to what are literally the most dangerous of all who exist; those with competence but lacking character.”
While I agree with the second sentence above — regarding the most dangerous people — I don’t agree with Steve in terms of their possessing self-esteem. Then again, I’m not saying he’s wrong. I can only know what I think, and coming from my own belief systems.
So, I’d like to put this question up for discussion:
Can someone who does something that would be — without question* — considered anti-social by any rational person also have high self-esteem?
Wikipedia.com describes self-esteem as a [reflection of] a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth.
With that in mind, can a Bernie Madoff or a Ted Bundy have high self-esteem? Or, is it merely ego-maniacal pride at their proficiency at doing something evil?
I’d love to know your opinions.
*This can be a bit “slippery” as, what one considers good another might consider bad. So, for the sake of this discussion, let’s look at this anti-social behavior as being from “consciously stealing/taking advantage of others” and worse.