Noseblind to our own Scent

The entitled never really know the extent to which they [we] are entitled.

The rich never really know how prosperous their [our] bank account is.

Bigots never really know the extent to which they [we] are racist.

And the self-righteous never really know how insufferably sanctimonious they [we] are.

In effect we are “noseblind” to our own scent.

We live with it all the time so that it becomes hidden to our awareness until the shock of it confronts us through some other sense or some other person. Susan S. Phillips puts it like this:

“Our own stories are so close to us that we can’t get the focal length necessary for a comprehensive view.”

Some of the view within my Focal Length:

As a white male, I am entitled in ways that I have happily taken for granted – sometimes thinking I’ve earned everything I’ve got without the awareness of how others have been impositioned or disentitled in the process.

As a Canadian, I am personally and communally rich in ways I have not noticed until I’ve travelled more of the “Two-Thirds World”. If we compare ourselves only to 1% of the most prosperous, we are prone to forget we still make up the top 10% of the wealthy in the world.

As a white man growing up in the mostly white world of my formative years, I had no idea the extent to which I naturally absorbed the prejudices of my cultural atmosphere until I started making friends (not just acquaintances) with people of other cultures and races.

As a human, I have tended to be blind to my own insufferable sense of self-satisfaction. I might judge others by their actions, but judge myself by my (good) intentions.

You may be reluctant to admit any of this yourself. That’s fine; I don’t have to convince you. It takes a mighty humility to overcome a mighty pride, and I don’t have that power.

You might think none of this applies to you. It may be difficult for you to smell the ways in which you are entitled, rich, racist, and/or self-righteous. You might live in victimhood and never realize the ways you’ve maladapted to manipulate to get your way. But who am I to say that to you?

I say again for the record: we become noseblind to our own scent, and we need another way to sense it; we need other people who can carefully and persistently reveal our odour to ourselves – for it takes a great humility we don’t naturally possess once we leave child-likeness behind.


To become aware of your own self-righteousness, see: “12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me).”

For more in this theme, see: “Acknowledging Our Debt.”

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About R.H. (Rusty) Foerger

As I enter the third third of life, I am becoming aware of the role of elders today “to enlarge spiritual vision, being devoted to prayer, living in the face of death, as a living curriculum of the Christian life” (Dr. James M. Houston). I am a life long and life wide learner who seeks to: *decipher the enigma of our worth *rescue from the agony of prayerlessness *integrate spiritual friendship.
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