Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.
He is called the “show-off” when he is small, the boy who loves to be the center of attention and give his childish opinion on all matters with great confidence and aplomb. Some parents make the grave mistake of considering such displays charming or as a symptom of geniality, not realizing they are helping to create that tiresome, unbearable adult called the braggart, which Chapter 16 of our Small Manual of Civility describes below.
Just as it is difficult to define the color of the chameleon, so also it is next to impossible to define the variability of the braggart who wants to shine in every topic and place. The term braggart designates one with a facility for words characterized by exuberance and volubility. Such exuberance generally comes from a high, egotistical opinion of oneself and little consideration for the thinking and convictions of others. His flow of words carries the braggart along, producing giddiness and self-delusions.
Certainly we are pleased to listen to an illustrious man conversing with understanding and discretion. On the contrary, we are disgruntled when we are obliged to bear the tiresome conversation of a braggart. Filled with a sense of his own imaginary importance, he touches lightly on all subjects, running disparately over the most varied and unconnected themes, without a deep understanding of anything. In a short time we are tired of his loquacity and bored by his presumptuous air, and our only desire is to flee his company.
No one takes seriously a braggart, who is like a clown performing for a bored audience
The braggart enjoys no credibility in what he says or proposes, unlike the truly intelligent man, who is modest and reserved. Quite the reverse, he dominates the conversation, not allowing others the time or opportunity to expose their own opinions, in this way depriving himself of the insights of others, and onlookers the use of the word.
The braggart is not the high-spirited bon vivant that he imagines himself to be. The true conversationalist is lively and brilliant in his ideas, moderate in his opinions, reserved in speaking of himself, and discerning of situations. He takes into account the various circumstance, prudently judges persons and things, and expresses himself with goodness and tact.
In contrast, the braggart speaks in all directions at once, soon making contradictory statements. He violates the rules of logic in speech, plays with the truth, makes light of serious things, and ridicules acts of abnegation and sacrifice by his jocular tone and irreverent language. Through all his pores and from every word, egoism oozes from the braggart. He laughs at everything and dissolves the most serious topics – life and death, the sentiments of sorrow or pleasure, suffering and sacrifice - into vague notions.
The typical braggart has no authority on any topic, nor is he believed by anyone. Whether he realizes it or not, no one takes him seriously.
The Spanish have a proverb the braggart would do well to consider: “Tell me what you brag about, and I’ll tell you what you lack” [Dime de qué alardeas y te diré de qué careces].
God chastises the braggart
In the time when the Philistines were hostile toward the Hebrews, a giant by the name of Goliath came out of the ranks and challenged the strongest Israelite warriors to single combat. Goliath laughed scornfully when a mere shepherd boy responded to the challenge. With a simple stone from his slingshot, David killed Goliath and then beheaded him with the giant’s own sword. A just chastisement of God of the braggart.
The braggart Goliath was humbled by a Hebrew shepherd boy
When King Nebucadonosor was considering the great improvements that his administration had given the nation and was thinking of imposing himself on the people as a divinity, he was struck with dementia, and for seven years he was confined to a house of madmen. Thus God resists and humbles the proud.
The pride of Diocletian, the ferocious author of the tenth persecution against the Christians, became so great that he had coins minted with this pretentious inscription: “Nomini Christiano deleto!” [I will wipe out the name of Christian.] He died in 313, the same year that the Edict of Milan was published by Constantine the Great, which gave peace and triumph to the Church. The name Christian was glorious, and the braggart Emperor lay forgotten in his tomb.
In a refinement of diabolical perversity, Julian the Apostate determined to find a contradiction in Jesus Christ. For this, he undertook the re-construction of the Temple of Jerusalem in order to defy those prophetic words of Our Lord regarding it: There shall not be left a stone upon a stone, that shall not be thrown down. To punish such a bold proposal, God sent forth fires and earthquakes that stopped the project from going forward.
Thus does God laugh at the proud men and braggarts who try to make war against Him.
Posted August __, 2007
Related Topics of Interest
Introduction to the Small Manual of Civility
Chapter 2: Bearing
Chapter 3: How to Sit, Stand, Walk
Chapter 4: Order and the Spirit of Order
Chapter 5: Order in the Professional Life
Chapter 6: The Eyes and the Gaze
Chapter 7: Cleanliness and Good Hygiene
Chapter 8: The Smile, The Laugh, The Grimace
Chapter 9: The Art of Governing the Hands and Feet
Chapter 10: The Voice - Speaking and Conversing
Chapter 11: Discretion in Words and Actions
Chapter 12: Good and Bad Curiosity
Chapter 13: Loyalty
Chapter 14: Punctuality
Chapter 14: Bearing
Chapter 15: Amiability
Dressing Well - Vanity or Virtue?
St. Isidore of Seville on the Importance of Being Dignified in Manner
Four Ways to Discern a Man's Soul by His Appearance
R-CR in the Tendencies, Ideas and Facts
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