Worse than an Asshole

In the book Xenocide by Orson Scott Card, Miro is a cripple, bitter at the blow life dealt him. With his blundering speech, he questions his brother, a priest, on matters of faith. Oh, not to learn from him but to challenge him. Finally, the scene leads to these words:

"You know what's worse than an asshole, Quim?"

"Sure," said Quim. "A hostile, bitter, self-pitying, abusive, miserable, useless asshole who has far too high an opinion of the importance of his own suffering."

It was more than Miro could bear. He screamed in fury and threw himself at Quim, knocking him to the ground. Of course Miro lost his own balance and fell on top of his brother, then got tangled in Quim's robes. But that was all right; Miro wasn't trying to get up, he was trying to beat some pain into Quim, as if by doing that he would remove some from himself.

--Orson Scott Card, Xenocide

These lines struck me like a ton of bricks. Hearing those words, I thought, "That's me." I'm bitter and self-pitying and miserable and useless because I'm angry life hasn't always gone my way. OK, I'm not a cripple. I'm healthy--mostly. And I have a job and a wonderful family, a roof over my head, food on the table, and gas in the car. But for the last seven years, I have wanted something that's been beyond my grasp: Financial Freedom.

At times, I have grown bitter when things didn't go my way. Angry at God. Hostile toward the world. Desperate to get beyond what today had to offer. And where did all that striving get me? It made me worse than an asshole.

Orson Scott Card is not an author. He's a prophet, using words like bullets to strike us with wisdom.

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