I have a new saying... "A shadow of doubt keeps us humble". The older we get, the more info we get, the more we know we don't know. If everyone in the world from the most intellectual to the least would get a little less sure of themselves and the answers, it might be easier to get to the actual truth.
I guess this comes from watching too many spin news programs...which is most of them anymore...and observing too many world conflicts over "theological" belief differences. Everyone is sooo "cock sure" of themselves based on traditions and "emotions"...which any student of history knows changes with each decade and significantly over centuries. How is it that people who have lived in this world only 20-30 years can be so sure about everything on Gods good earth? I know I was more sure of more things in my 20s than I am now in my 50s.
I admire the process in life of taking a stand and trying to defend it. I admire standing up for "yourself" and what you think. Yet, it is dangerous to take our positions to the level where we are willing to die for our "beliefs" or worse yet...kill another soul because they don't agree with us. This is the world we live in folks. Thousands are dying needlessly every week because they hold on to truths that are not so "self evident". Whether it is believing in some religious "jihad" or believing that some land or territory was yours and "your peoples" in perpetuity...or continuing to live in some inhabitable place like a flooding riverbed each year or the middle of the desert...these habits and thoughts can be life threatening.
You cannot "win" an argument with someone who has a closed mind and false absolutes. You cannot find middle ground and live with diversity if there is no respect for difference. You cannot have peace in this world if you think yours is the only way.
Ever since a discussion I had on my December birthday with two friends...a Jew and a Muslim...I have become more convinced this year that the key to peace in the world is HUMILITY. I know, its not one of MY best traits...but I admire it in others. Even some of the best minds I have known or read are often times brutally honest about their limitations...what they don't know.
When it comes to negotiations regarding the worlds differences on global issues, I think it is pointless to send someone to negotiate on one's behalf who is extremely opinionated, haughty or inflexible. While society sometimes sees these people as "strong"...I think usually these people are covering up great weaknesses of position. Pretenders are always "found out"...at least in time.
Those of us from America tend to be a proud lot. We have a lot to be proud of having built quite the empire in such a relatively short time in world history. Yet, I fear our pride has brought us to a point of blindness...blindness to our own faults and weaknesses. Blindness to how our words and actions are construed by other cultures. Many of us don't care enough to study or look at a "foreign" point of view. We are very sure we have the best of everything...and no one can tell us anything. This kind of mentality very quickly finds itself without friends. I fear that my country is slowly but surely becoming very isolated on the world stage in many ways.
I continue admiring the writer of Proverbs who had a few interesting things to say about "pride":
Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
A soft answer turns away wrath...
A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor
While the world media continues to perpetuate a "Rambo" type mentality when it comes to overcoming conflicts...kill the "enemy" first and ask questions later...I prefer a movie role model like "Dave". If you've never seen this 1993 comedy-drama, it is very well done and has many themes that fit into what I am trying to express here.
"Dave" is a simple ad exec who looks almost identical to the President of the USA. The President is an immoral man who has a severe stroke while with his "mistress". Instead of passing the baton to a supposedly weak "Vice President", the powers around the President bring Dave in to play the "role" of President, hoping to control him and "the situation". Dave ends up being the moral opposite of the actual President and begins fighting against the power grab of the administration and "doing the right things".
While it is a funny, well written and acted movie...the core message to me was that power and corrupt minds do not rule or lead with morality. The ego, pride and "need to win" supersedes the rationale of every decision made. Selfishness is at the core of negotiation, and we humans are suckers for following the "Rambo" types. We always want someone who is going to fight our battle for us. We want someone else to protect our way of life and belief system...even if some of that system is suspect. We don't want to examine it or know about it. We just want to be on the "winning" team...often times without merit, and not necessarily on the side of morality.
I would suggest that whether it is on the grand stage of political or corporate battlegrounds...or in the simplicity of our own homes, families and businesses...a little humility can be a very helpful thing. A wise person can step outside of their own presuppositions and think from another person's perspective. Very few people are able to do that in my observation. If I have to choose someone to represent me on the world stage or even chose as a friend...I will take "Dave" over "Rambo".