Humility does not come easily for people brought up on bullet points and clear answers. For Americans in particular, who have raised pride and self-esteem to a high art, even the word ‘humility’ raises hackles. It is more acceptable – even expected – for Americans to sing their own praises. When Mohammad Ali was taken to task, chided for arrogance when he claimed he was “the greatest,” he said “It ain’t arrogant if you can do it!” Fifty years later, young Americans are still told this story by their sports coaches as they are encouraged to succeed. Maybe for winning at sports it’s not bad advice, but as a preparation for life in the messy uncertainties of the 21st century it has all the hallmarks of a neurotic response…..
We have noted already that the default psychological protection against fear and anxiety is neurotic defense. It is a way of dealing with complexity by withdrawal from contact with the world and so not dealing with it at all. Persons of tomorrow, by contrast, embrace the world. They engage with their existential reality in a spirit of hope, courage, invention and play. Continue reading