It’s frightening how quickly power has gotten to the heads of Edgar Lungu and his minions.
It’s also shocking how they have quickly surrounded themselves with all sorts of sycophants – people who want him to rule forever, who want him to be the Patriotic Front’s sole candidate at the convention in contravention of the party’s constitution, people who are always showering him with praises, people who are ready to maim or kill those opposing him.
They say power is intoxicating and addictive. It’s true. We can see this in Edgar and his cronies.
Indeed, power can easily and quickly change people’s personalities if it is allowed to go to their heads.
Where once there was said to be humility, hubris can develop when their self-confidence and pride reach excessive levels. Why is this?
After all, power isn’t inherently all that bad. When its exercise is a constant practice of self-limitation and modesty, power can fuel an appetite visionary, passionate and dynamic pursuits.
However, when power makes people behave in a narcissistic manner, and see themselves as superior with exaggerated self-belief and overwhelming contempt for others, they are following a hubristic path. Their over-confidence often leads to disaster, as they become incompetent due to arrogance and self-delusion.
Power can obviously be rewarding. It activates the neurochemical dopamine which is part of the reward circuit in the brain. It makes us feel great and the more we are rewarded, the more dopamine is stimulated. More power = more dopamine = more power. The feedback loop can be addictive to the point where the need for yet another shot of dopamine may be way off kilter with reality.
This spiral is tough enough to control in positions of power but it can be intensified even further by sycophancy. The last thing political leaders need is to be surrounded by people who agree with everything they say. They should listen out for those who constantly say to them “great idea” or “yes I agree”, when they don’t, or “brilliant, I couldn’t have put it better myself”. Sycophants are full of bunkum and quite frankly dangerous for all concerned and possibly disastrous for politics.
It is not so easy to listen to someone who does not agree with us, but if we want to avoid hubris syndrome it is wise to do so.
Hubris is a syndrome that is best avoided by recognising and acknowledging the importance, talents and contributions of others.