St. Augustine called pride, "a defect of nature."
Chairman’s Column January 2010
By: Bob Schaffer, LPR Chairman
In virtually every instance, weakness threatens freedom. Whether in local law enforcement, international diplomacy or economics, the inability or refusal to protect liberty plunges societies ultimately to the depths of servitude.
The same holds true on the constitutions of individuals. Emotional, intellectual, physical and financial weaknesses deny men the fullness of human dignity.
Often, the core of weakness is pride. American poet and diplomat James Russell Lowell wrote, “Pride and weakness are Siamese twins.”
St. Augustine labeled pride “the beginning of sin.” It is a desire for gratuitous admiration. Even in its mildest forms, pride can unwittingly swell to conquer the better of us.
We are apt to regard pride in the accomplishment of others as a rather harmless sensation. In these instances, pride is commonly encouraged as a benign sense of affection, even an expression of love.
For example, parents are proud of their child when he scores the winning goal. Leaders need to mind the common trappings of even these innocent levels of filial, fraternal and institutional pride.
Adulation associated with a moderate point of pride too often becomes an end to itself and its own fulfillment. Consider the common occasion of your name being accidentally left off a list of colleagues as they are applauded say at a public ceremony or in a newsletter feature. Suppose the omission is a deliberate function of another’s judgment.
Should your reaction to such an offense be indignant fomenting resentment toward perceived offenders, it is likely an indication of excessive pride and weakness. A principled leader will applaud the others and move on contented his actions and beliefs are sturdy enough to withstand another’s derision.
Good leaders exhibit humility – the counterbalance to pride. Some are inclined to regard humility as a kind of inferiority, submissiveness or a distinct weakness. An objective study of human history’s greatest leaders, however, reveals epic demonstrations of humility as a common quality.
In an ironic way, humility burnishes the currency of a true leader. As St. Augustine put it, “This seems, indeed, to be contradictory, that loftiness should debase and lowliness exalt.”
He wrote, “But pious humility enables us to submit to what is above us; and nothing is more exalted above us than God; and therefore humility, by making us subject to God, exalts us. But pride, being a defect of nature, by the very act of refusing subjection and revolting from Him who is supreme, falls to a low condition; and then comes to pass what is written: ‘Thou castedst them down when they lifted up themselves.’"
All of us at the Leadership Program of the Rockies are indeed proud of the organization and its accomplishments. We are admittedly proud that LPR succeeds in holding noble objectives toward Liberty as its defining pursuit.
Simultaneously, we actively promote the character of humility. We look up to the courage of America’s Founding Fathers, the wisdom of great Western philosophers, the endowments of the Creator and the solemn contributions of the entire LPR family.
We do not let pride stand in the way of freedom.
Bob Schaffer is the Chairman of the Colorado State Board of Education. He is a former US Congressman and Colorado State Senator. He is also the Chairman of the Leadership Program of the Rockies. His monthly columns appear in the organization's newsletters. For more information and to subscribe, please visit www.leadershipprogram.org
More information about Schaffer at www.BobSchaffer.org