Sunday, October 9, 2011

Complete Self-Confidence--A Weakness

The arrogance of man is such that he is forever seeking to attach his imprimatur to success in order to co-opt that success for his own gain. In capitalism, the effect is competition. In government, the result is tyranny.

From a young age, we encourage our children to "believe in themselves." We cite examples of our heroes who through sheer determination succeeded in the face of unrelenting failure. We recount the perseverance of Thomas Edison and Abraham Lincoln; we celebrate Washington's improbable victory against the British or the rags to riches stories of men and women who have risen from obscurity to wealth through hard work. This is the story of America at her finest placed center stage, integral to our cultural lore, so deeply revered it is embedded in our DNA. We believe in ourselves, we believe in others. That is the essence of being American.

But believing in one's self implies that there is something to believe in. Something fine and good and honorable at the core and if there is good there must also be humility--a self-check against delusion. For, blind belief is dangerous when unchecked as G.K. Chesterton reminds us in his 1908 publication of Orthodoxy. He writes: Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves? For I can tell you. I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar. I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success. I can guide you to the thrones of the Supermen. The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums...Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness.

Our political leaders would do well to consider Chesterton's words. Our president who believes in the veracity of his unproven and failed economic policies and continues to advocate them in the face of ongoing economic deterioration would do well to consider the facts. To seek guidance from history. To understand that at the core of blind confidence is arrogance. Out president would do well to understand as Chesterton did that "complete self-confidence is a weakness." And, weakness is something the leader of the world's dominant economic power cannot afford to flaunt.

1 comment:

  1. Wow...good post! We all could do with a dash of self confidence but well too much of confidence can arrogance. self confidence