Hubris. It’s a word not commonly used anymore. Maybe because it’s been around for 2,500 years and most words have a finite life-span. But it’s a good word. Aristotle said hubris defined actions meant to shame the victim.We see it in nearly every football game we watch; a player outruns his opponent then smugly shakes his finger in the opponent’s face. They call it taunting. It draws a penalty.
More recently the meaning has changed slightly and instead of describing actions, it has morphed into a description of the attitude that sparked the action, that allowed someone to scorn the victim. Merriam Webster succinctly defines it as “a great or foolish amount of pride or confidence.”
It seems to me the swirl of bad publicity bubbling up from Lansing has its roots in hubris, both in its original meaning and in its more modern sense.
For instance, consider the general elections in 2012 when the people of Michigan rejected Proposal 1 by a margin of 52% to 48%, a proposal that would have allowed Governor Snyder to continue to appoint an Emergency Manager (EM) whenever, wherever he deemed the fiscal environment was unsustainable.
You would think that would have settled the question but it didn’t.
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