The humility factor
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday April 11, 2011 - “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth; Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled; Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy; Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God; Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” - Matthew 5:5-9
I was enjoying a relaxing interlude in my hotel room in Trinidad on the weekend. This was sandwiched on either side by periods of concentration as I attempted to address client reports.
I turned on the TV: firstly, to the news channel where one is bombarded with turmoil of one kind or another in every continent in the world; secondly, to a sports channel where one respected the consummate talent of the soccer players, coaches and managers; and thirdly, to Trinidadian Lisa Wickham’s E-ZONE programme which was featuring Barbados, in general, and showcasing talent in the recent Caribbean Tales Film Festival 2011 held in Barbados, in particular.
I reflected on the contrast between turmoil and respect (for sports and film production talent). On the one hand, much of the world was in disarray as manifested by the loss of lives from natural and man-made disasters and, on the other hand, there seemed to be so much in harmony as the sports and cultural industries cater to our peace of mind.
How do we address the turmoil? The contrasting TV exposure induced thoughts of humility which I researched and would like to share the following: “Humility or humbleness is a quality of being courteously respectful of others. It is the opposite of aggressiveness, arrogance, boastfulness, and vanity. Rather than, ‘Me first,’ humility allows us to say, ‘No, you first, my friend.’ Humility is the quality that lets us go more than halfway to meet the needs and demands of others.”
“Friendships and marriages are dissolved over angry words. Resentments divide families and co-workers. Prejudice separates race from race and religion from religion. Reputations are destroyed by malicious gossip. Greed puts enmity between rich and poor. Wars are fought over arrogant assertions.”
“Humility as a virtue is a major theme of both the Old and New Testaments. Why do qualities such as courtesy, patience and deference have such a prominent place in the Bible? It is because a demeanour of humility is exactly what is needed to live in peace and harmony with all persons. Humility dissipates anger and heals old wounds. Humility allows us to see the dignity and worth of all God's people. Humility distinguishes the wise leader from the arrogant power-seeker.”
“Acting with humility does not in any way deny our own self worth. Rather, it affirms the inherent worth of all persons. Some would consider humility to be a psychological malady that interferes with ‘success’. However, wealth, power or status gained at the expense of others brings only anxiety - never peace and love.” “Humility leads to strength, not weakness. It is the highest form of self-respect.”
On my only visit to Japan few years ago, I was taken aback by the courtesy which was extended to all the passengers as we alighted on Japanese soil. What we were experiencing was one of the more interesting aspects of the Japanese that is their strong tendency to be humble, being polite by putting one's self down in order to raise others up. Humility is indeed engrained in Japanese culture and no doubt this is what has stood them in good stead as they address the major dislocation in life due to the recent pain, anguish or suffering resulting from mental or physical hardship in their country.
In contrast, the “aggressiveness, arrogance, boastfulness, and vanity” exhibited by leaders in Ivory Coast, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain and beyond has incited escalating waves of political unrest which have resulted in major loss of life and property. If only humility could prevail!
In the Caribbean Community efforts at uniting the Caribbean since 1968, in its new dispensation, through what is now called the Caribbean Single Market and Economy have failed to gain momentum and some think it is slipping from our grasp. There is full support for the concept of unity when the Heads of Caribbean Governments meet at least twice per year and many agreements are made. However, when the politicians return to their sovereign jurisdictions, there decisions are driven by what is politically astute for their own short term survival and not what may be in the best long term interest of the region. If the region fails, then not all of us will survive. If the region wins, then there is an opportunity for each country of the region to be pulled along in the positive momentum which prevails. The Humility Factor will mitigate this risk of regional failure.
At the national level, Ministers of Government in each country need to be humble enough to surround themselves with a group of the best brains available in a given portfolio and issue a mandate to each group “to make me look good”. The tendency is, however, for each Minister to allow success at the polls to infuse arrogance which presupposes knowledge about the portfolio that is greater than it really is.
Finally, the family is at the heart of today’s society, let humility prevail.
All those who adopt the Humility Factor shall inherit the Earth.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dr Basil Springer. Dr Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc.
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