Even if the ego to which we attach so much importance is nothing more than a delusion, as the Buddhist teachings suggest, it still manages to create enough havoc in the world!
Case in point: The reports arriving via the news media from Zimbabwe about the growing cholera epidemic there are a tragic reminder of the destructive power of one madman's megalomania. It is unquestionably Robert Mugabe and his incompetence that have laid the groundwork for the current disaster. The economic chaos, with the percentage of inflation in the multiples of thousands, has left his citizens in abject poverty and bereft even of clean drinking water. His stubborn hubris in refusing to relinquish power even after this year's election results were an indisputable signal for him to do so, along with his betrayal of promises to share power with his rival are the direct cause of the misery from which his country suffers today. Thousands have already died from the cholera epidemic, and the lives of countless thousands more are threatened. And still he will not leave, preferring the sacrifice of the lives of others to that of his willfully blind ego.
Let's not be pointing fingers, though, when we have our own example of this folly in the White House. This ego-driven presidency has caused enough pain and suffering in the world to earn its own black mark in history. And I'm not thinking only of the foolish misadventure in Iraq. I'm thinking of all the ripples that have proceeded from that point throughout the Muslim world. I'm thinking of the denial of simple birth control methods and education to too many women who have died in childbirth, or to the children they have brought into the world without the means to support them and protect them from the ravages of hunger and disease--all because of the arrogance of one man who believes the Almighty speaks directly in his ear.
The toll of human life that can be attributed throughout history to the ruthless masculine ego is incalculable, unimaginable. It's a powerful force, both in the world at large and in the small world of our individual lives. I should know. I'm a Leo. I have my own past ego-driven actions to atone for, come karma-time, and my own current battles with this relentless monster. And I continue to struggle with the understanding that a great deal of good can come from the strong ego, in ways virtually indistinguishable from the harm. Therein lies another of those enigmas of the human nature that will never be resolved.