Unity Through The Spirit of Humility

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On Tuesday, July 12, 2016 both Former US President George W. Bush and US President Barack Obama delivered their memorial service speeches for the five police officers killed in Dallas shooting. I find both speeches complement each other in teaching us about strengthening the unity of our groups. I believe that leaders today need to learn a thing or two from their speeches to transform their members into a more effective and solid team.

Former President George W. Bush wisely reminded us, “Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions.” So true. Mankind tends to have these double standards when judging others and ourselves.

More frequently than not, we fail to see beyond the way other people do things. Unfortunately, when we see others do things differently from us, we quickly jump into conclusions that things are not done in the right way. To make things worse, we often insert our quick assumptions that the flaws we see are done on purpose, to benefit one or more individuals as opposed to the bigger group.

On the other hand, we demand others to judge ourselves based on our well intentions. We often fail to consider that the way we do things could be perceived unfavorably by others, if not done as per the expectation of the majority of the group. To make things worse, there are times that we are fully aware of the consequences, yet relying on the justification of our well intentions alone, we choose to ignore what could go wrong. We take the quick shortcut to realize our well intentions.

Naturally, these opposing double standards are likely to trigger conflicts amongst the group members.

How can we fix this? I believe the spirit of humility is the answer.

The spirit of humility enables us to willingly reverse the way we tend to react as explained above. When we do exactly the opposites of the way we tend to judge others and ourselves, we would create a more harmonious climate for the group members to perform as a solid team.

We should not simply judge how other people carry things out differently from our ways. Rather, go the extra mile, consider also their positive intentions. Just like you, by and large, people have their best intentions at heart. Seek to understand their perspectives. When you see others do things differently, generally because there are things that you see that they do not or vice versa. Instead of judging them the wrong way, communicate the different perceptions among you.

Restrain ourselves from simply doing things our own way, even though we are certain of our well intentions. Rather, strive to ensure that others would be able to see our best intentions, by taking into accounts the likely expectations on the way we should respond to a certain situation. Seek to understand their perspectives. When you foresee some risks that people may perceive you wrongly, anticipate and do the extra mile to ensure that you would get their acceptance.

In President Barack Obama’s speech that same day, based on his rich experiences, he said, “I’m not naive… I’ve seen how a spirit of unity, born of tragedy, can gradually dissipate, overtaken by the return to business as usual, by inertia and old habits and expediency. I see how easily we slip back into our old notions, because they’re comfortable, we’re used to them. I’ve seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change.”

President Obama pointed out that Dr. King’s speech, the signing of Civil Rights Act, or the signing of Voting Rights Act had dramatically contributed to bridge differences in his lifetime. Unfortunately, he also reminded us that no matter how good our intentions may be, bias remains. He said, “We’ve heard it at times in our own homes. If we’re honest, perhaps we’ve heard prejudice in our own heads and felt it in our own hearts… Although most of us do our best to guard against it and teach our children better, none of us is entirely innocent.”

I second President Obama’s view that we need to be honest with ourselves. We need feedback and reminders from others, because none of us is entirely innocent. We need to recognize and accept our differences. We need to find the will to change for the better, because knowing the right things to do is not enough. We need to be wiser and act on this knowledge.

We need the spirit of humility to be honest with ourselves, to accept our differences, to see the best intentions of others, and to watch ourselves from doing things that are harmful to others. This call for action is even more important for those who happen to have the leadership role. Leaders must unite every single one of their members. Thus, leaders must inspire and be the role models in this spirit of humility as well.

Let us learn to be more humble. Let us change for the better! Shall we?

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