“No one is such a liar as the indignant man.”
– Fredrich Nietzsche
Before we attempt to understand what Nietzsche might have meant, first we need to know the nuances of the word, indignant. It is an adjective describing the inner feeling and/or outward expression of righteous anger, resentment, or ire at something one finds strong displeasure with; unjust, offensive, or insulting. Liar needs little explanation – it’s someone who doesn’t tell the truth.
So, Nietzsche’s meaning? I take it to be that whenever I go on a rant about something, where I think something is just WRONG!, I protest (usually at length) so that all who care (or I think should care) know where I stand on the issue and are never left in doubt – all the while knowing, sometimes, deep down, that my indignant protest doesn’t accurately reflect me; there is a dissonance between what I think/say, and what I really feel. I am telling a lie.
Because I know what I think/say is what I want to believe (I know it’s the right thing) but it’s wrong (because it’s not the way I really feel). I’m not being honest.
To others, or myself. To be completely honest (and I hope, after you examine yourself to see if in some measure you’re just – at times – as unthinkingly duplicitous as I sometimes am, and can thus forgive me), here are a couple of examples:
• I believe in open borders. Truly, I do. I “think” people should be freely allowed to come and go and live anywhere in the world they want. And I get indignant whenever the subject of immigration control comes up. But, at the same time, I “feel” angry about immigration – legal or otherwise – because I find myself and “my kind” becoming more and more the minority to “them” instead of the majority I and “mine” historically have been. I find myself confronting language(s) and culture(s) I cannot relate to, there is no resonance with my inner self, I am discomforted that I find myself now in the minority and I “feel” that there should be greater immigration restrictions. (A response in-kind to the restrictive immigration policies by those nations where I’d be with “my kind” but I am unable to move to, even if I thought I might?)
• I believe in gun control/restrictions. Truly, I do. And I proclaim that whenever there is another mass-shooting. I indignantly say I don’t “think” every Tom, Dick or Harry needs to have a – or multiple – weapons capable of turning human beings into Swiss cheese, full of holes, with semi-automatic military-grade rifles or pistols. But, at the same time, because of the ever increasing number of armed assaults, car-jackings, strong-arm robberies on our city streets, the increasing number of home invasions by armed assailants, or the drive-by shootings at innocent civilians by gang members, I am beginning to “feel” the need to have my own gun. (A response in-kind, because of the prime imperative of life – survival – to resist and defend one’s own life (or the lives of innocents) by meeting force with equal force?)
Can you see how such dichotomies of “thinking” and “feeling” can lead to lies, to one’s own self, if not to others? (Not to mention the havoc it plays on my political leanings – think Liberal, feel Conservative!) Search yourself to see where you feel one way and think/speak another way.
Ever find yourself indignant about something? What are your differing feelings hidden behind what you indignantly think/say?
If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll realize you’re sometimes the liar.
To yourself as well as others.