All of life’s failures are failures simply because they have not been able to get beyond themselves. They are self-centered and lack social interest.
Most of the evils of mankind would not be possible if the ego did not persuade us that we were somehow different, somehow better, somehow more precious than others. It is the ego that draws the line between “us” and “them” and deludes us into thinking we can go it alone. It is our ego that leads us to believe that we can live untouched by the problems that plague the rest of humanity or that our problems are of a different magnitude, severity, or degree.
At its worst, the ego can persuade us that our smallest desires are more important than someone else’s life, the gratification of our immediate needs more important than another’s well-being, or that our view of the way the world should be is more important than the integrity of nations and the lives of thousands.
Conversely, John Ruskin observed, the first test of a truly great man is humility. “I do not mean by humility doubt of his own powers,” Ruskin said. “But really great men have a curious feeling that the greatness is not in them but through them. And they see something Divine in every other man.”
Ego is the enemy. It keeps us apart. Any activity based on ego and human ambition is a delusion and an obstacle to grace. Ego separates us from those we love and those who love us. It imprisons us in ourselves.