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Linda Durnell

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Overcoming Arrogance: An Election Lesson

Posted: 09/13/2012 3:48 pm

When we are witness to arrogance -- as we have seen in recent political discourse, we see all too often individuals who are attached to the reference point of "me." As an elected official, their job is to focus on "us" and "others" and a devastating disconnect occurs and distrust flourishes when self-regard and self-importance take center stage in place of selflessness and self-respect of others. When arrogance drives our leaders -- cultural arrogance and/or ideological arrogance it can only create polarization, hostility and bitterness.

It is difficult to develop the perception needed to govern properly, when in the state of arrogance. When our leaders allow arrogance to dominate their thoughts and beliefs they find it hard to assess situations properly. The inherent aggression that accompanies arrogance will certainly cloud their attempts at much-needed self-control. We saw this in play this week with Mitt Romney acting on presumption instead of facts, being driven by self-interest instead of understanding and unity. Had he exercised some self-control, perhaps he would have been able to overcome his arrogance and access selflessness to show some measure of humility and understanding for those killed and the tumultuous situations unfolding around the world.

Arrogance goes hand in hand with disrespect and this certainly destroys our ability to connect with others effectively. Too much arrogance will manifest as disdain and foster the belief of superiority. We have seen this played out in various political administrations at times in our history and inevitably when driven by arrogance, we in turn became disconnected and at odds with the rest of the world.

We have seen the effects of arrogance around the world when leaders ignore the needs of the many for the adoration of the few. Arrogant leaders are primarily motivated from a place of self-involvement and competition. When you are in a state of competition, it is impossible to respond effectively, as it is difficult to set aside the ego long enough to see other perceptions and perspectives.

The point is this -- when our leaders act from arrogance, their behaviors, comments and choices will have the consequence of upsetting others -- in our country and throughout the world. People in turn, will act out in any way they can -- riots, storming embassies, hurting innocent people -- all because we chose to convey arrogance. Many of our political leaders are untrained in the skills of proper communication and correct thinking and their arrogance becomes an obstacle to genuineness. Could this be Mitt Romney's problem?

The reason to choose a leader who embodies good behavior -- protocol, manners, discipline -- is so we can communicate our respect for others. This is where Hilary Clinton has excelled as Secretary of State. She shows true concern and respect for those she meets. She is fearless in seeking out those who differ from us -- even those considered by many, as "extreme" which she knows is simply a fear-based term for "different." She understands the rituals necessary in each culture and how these rituals are connected to our consideration of their way of life; their beliefs and feelings. An effective leader can and should govern by being a decent person and by this I mean someone who shows consideration for others.

Training ourselves to have self-discipline is another crucial component to overcoming the trap of arrogance. When you believe everything is about you -- your beliefs, your fears, your needs, your desires -- no rational person will go there with you. We have seen Obama strive to be free from arrogance, and as a result, he exudes humbleness -- not weakness, but self-effacing humbleness that allows sanity, gratitude and wisdom to become the reality by which he governs and we are able to live.

If we removed the political parties and looked at Romney and Obama as individuals, how would we make our decision? I would like to think it would be based on how they treat us -- others around the world -- those who oppose us and those who need our help; in other words, all of us. Regardless of which party or individual we choose to align with, it is imperative that we look at how the candidates treat us -- including, but certainly not limited to, the least among us. Let us recognize and eliminate those leaders who believe arrogance, fear, malevolence and self-importance are what the world needs more of and let us instead, elect leaders who will work towards inclusion, humility, strength through cooperation and respect in the face of our differences.

 

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