New officials’ temptations to act with arrogance
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - July 8, 2019 - 12:00am

There is a grave and imminent danger for new officials to fall into the trap of doing precisely what they criticized their defeated predecessors for. One of those rejected attitudes was arrogance, the other is vindictiveness. Let’s start with arrogance.

Arrogance, the offensive display of self-righteousness and superiority, is often the mark of petty tyrants and budding dictators who usually believe that they are the sole repositories of truth and rectitude. Arrogance is an overbearing attitude that proclaims monopoly of wisdom and power, and the exclusion of others, all the rest being judged as incapable of contributing to making decisions and choosing prospects and aspirants for appointments as underlings. Arrogance destroys friendships, foments division, and fragmentation and alienates allies and supporters. Arrogance is not good for public servants, and doesn’t result in excellent governance.

Arrogance is pride, the bad kind of pride. John C. Maxwell wrote that there are two kinds of pride, good and bad. The good pride represents our dignity and self-respect. The bad is the deadly sin of false sense of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance. Pope Francis wrote that the greatest danger that threatens everyone in the Church is falling into vanity, arrogance, and false pride. In Isaiah 2:17 to 18, it is written: “The arrogant man shall be humbled, and the loftiness of men shall be abased. The idols shall be completely wiped out. And the Lord alone shall be exalted on the day of judgment and reckoning.”

Empirical data and anecdotal evidence shows that newly-installed officials have the tendency to exercise arrogance in assuming their new exalted positions. We are not referring to any particular official or any particular local government. This is a general reminder to one and all newly-sworn local officials. I hope that they take these in positive light. To take them negatively would be the surest sign of an emerging sense of arrogance. Public officials should humble themselves and remain open to listen to their people, and perhaps to learn from them. After all, public officials are supposed to be public servants.

According to President John F. Kennedy: “Whenever power leads man towards arrogance, humility should remind him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man's concerns, humility reminds him of the richness and diversity of life. When power corrupts, humility heals.” The famous Leo Tolstoy once wrote: “An arrogant person considers himself perfect. This is the most damaging harm of arrogance. It prevents man from accomplishing his most important mission in life, which is to become a better person.” Samuel Butler wrote: “The most evident trait of ignorance is vanity coupled with arrogance.” Another writer said that arrogance makes one look strong outside while from weakness inside.

The greatest Cebuano leaders that I know were the most humble: Congressman Eddie R. Gullas, Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., and in the earlier times, Don Sergio Osmeña Sr., Don Vicente Rama, and Don Vicente A. Gullas. I hope that today's leaders shall imbibe the virtue of humility instead of arrogance, pride, and vanity.

JOHN KENNEDY
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