Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Obama's Humble Confidence.

Without realizing it, every time we turn on the water, plug in an electrical appliance, start our cars in the morning, walk down the street, call the police, etc. we are placing our confidence, trust and faith in total strangers. We trust that these people we never met will obey traffic laws and not drive down the sidewalks we walk. We have faith that our policemen, firemen, and civil servants will show up for work, and come when we call, and that our elected officials won't sell us out to our enemies.

Can you imagine what would happen if the all the people who go to work everyday to ensure the operation of our infrastructure decided not to show up? Alan Weisman, the author of, The World Without Us tells us it wouldn't take long for things to go very wrong.

In other words, underlying the elaborate and complex design that is civilization, is a significant degree of trust, faith and confidence. Not only in ourselves, but in each other, because without it, anarchy would rule, and eventually civilization would cease to exist.

At the same time, paradoxically, a certain level of modesty, humility and subservience is crucial to the functioning of society. The last eight years have shown us the catastrophic consequences of confidence exercised without humility. Arrogant self-confidence, anchored in nothing but hot air, bluster and willful ignorance, eventually leads to disastrous results. Learning cannot take place without the modesty and humility to admit we don't know everything.

We are all fallible, even the President of the United States, which is why it's imperative that our leaders balance their ego and self-confidence, with the courage to be compassionate, the wisdom to be humble, and the faith to trust that most of us want to work together and contribute to make things better, no matter how "small" that contribution might be.

"I'm going to listen to you, especially when we disagree because one of the things that has served me well in my career is discovering that I don't know everything," -- President-elect Barack Obama


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