Churchill’s Egotism

This is the first piece I wrote for the Writing Seminar.  It uses two examples to argue that Churchill (prematurely) believed he was destined for greatness.

Winston Churchill undoubtedly changed the course of history in many ways.  But it is impossible to know the future.  How could anyone have predicted how important Churchill would prove to be?  Before accomplishing anything of note, Churchill believed he would.  The fact that he turned out to be right does not retroactively justify his huge ego.  Churchill spent his whole life with this irrational belief in himself.

Even at a young age, Churchill felt superior.  In a chapter (Childhood) from Churchill’s autobiography, A Roving Commission, he details an instance when he demonstrated his supposed superiority to his religious teachers in school.  While everyone else in church turned to the East for the Apostles’ Creed, as was custom, Churchill remained facing forward.  His sole justification was a supposition that his old nurse might have objected.  Churchill writes that he was ready to be martyred.  In Christianity, martyrs are worshiped and rewarded with sainthood!  While Churchill’s phrasing was likely hyperbole, the fact remains that he seized this opportunity to sacrifice himself for his beliefs.  And by definition, if one is ready to sacrifice oneself, one must value oneself.  However, due to the trivial nature of both the reasoning behind and the manner of Churchill’s “sacrifice,” this act is a clear indication that his sense of self-worth was inflated.

This egotism continued into Churchill’s adult life.  Examples abound in Geoffrey Best’s biography, Churchill: A Study in Greatness.  Best writes that “[Churchill] was sure he had it in him to be a war leader.”  This belief was maintained even in a period of chastisement for Churchill as just that: a war leader.  Fighting in Sudan, Churchill came “several times within an inch of death.”  Churchill claimed that he was saved by “his ‘faith – in what, I do not know – that I shall not be hurt.”  Churchill is egotistical enough to submit that if God exists, surely He is watching over Churchill.  It is this belief that propelled Churchill to Sudan in the first place.  Churchill insisted that in order to be in a position of power (and therefore accomplish great deeds), he needed public face.  To gain fame, Churchill intentionally sought out danger so that after he survived (as he irrationally insisted he would), he could publish the adventure in a newspaper.  As indicated by this reckless behavior, Churchill believed that he was on a path to greatness so important that it simply could not ever be jeopardized.