You just got a new car and meet up with a friend to show it off. After looking the car over and checking out all the high-tech features, your friend compliments the car and tells you it is, “Ridiculous!” You are pleased with this assessment. You agree. Your new car is ridiculously awesome, your friend confirmed it and you are feeling grateful for the compliment.
Unfortunately, the common use of ridiculous has a negative connotation and serves as a judgment indicating stark disapproval. Someone who disagrees or misunderstands the actions of another might say, “He did what? That’s ridiculous!” On the path of personal mastery, judgments such as this serve as ego traps.
Google’s Oxford Languages defines the word ridiculous as, “deserving or inviting derision or mockery; absurd.” In a universe made of love and oneness, no one deserves to be derided or mocked. Mockery is used by someone who lacks the knowledge or self confidence to opine on a subject using sound and logical argument. It is meant to serve a blow to the judged person’s ego and cause them to second guess themselves. It often works.
Ayn Rand calls this “Argument from Intimidation.” In her book, The Virtue of Selfishness, she writes:
The essential characteristic of the Argument from Intimidation is to appeal to moral self-doubt and its reliance on the fear, guilt or ignorance of the victim. It is used in the form of an ultimatum demanding that the victim renounce a given idea without discussion, under threat of being considered morally unworthy. The pattern is always: “Only those who are evil (dishonest, heartless, insensitive, ignorant, etc.) can hold such an idea.”
In the clear and kind evaluation of ideas, merit is determined through thoughtful discussion between a connected group of considerate thinkers. The argument from intimidation is often used as a shortcut by the impatient or those lacking compassion. I’m sure that most of us are guilty of using this form of judgment at some point in our lives, meaning no ill intent. In fact, it may be unconsciously part of our everyday conversation. Carl Jung teaches that the individuation process involves bringing unconscious contents of the psyche into consciousness. Simply by learning about argument from intimidation, we become aware of its negative effects and can work to avoid using it ourselves. Awareness also helps us recognize when someone attempts to use it on us, allowing us to wise up to this tactic and save ourselves from falling into the ego trap of judgment.
Who is to say what’s ridiculous anyway? If I am holding onto limiting beliefs, everything beyond those beliefs might seem ridiculous to me, in the negative. But, when we have the courage release the bonds of fear and ego, surround ourselves with love and light and become free to infinite possibility, life becomes……. positively ridiculous!