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From the desk of Dora DePaoli: Self-esteem versus humility

August 17, 2001

In recent years there has been a lot of emphasis on building the self-esteem of youngsters. As a result of this effort a lot of the kids in the U.S. have loads of self-confidence but few skills as compared to youngsters in other countries.

Although I think it is important for people to have healthy self-esteem, I have a problem heaping praise on children for mediocre efforts.

A large part of our adult population has inflated egos. I am reminded of a popular saying when I was growing up: "What's he got to be so pleased about?"

In Texas they like to say: "He thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow."

Job applicants are expected to "sell themselves" during interviews. It is practically a given that job-seekers embellish their resumes. The creative juices seem to flow when people look to improve their job status. A former hamburger pusher in a fast-food establishment may suddenly become the manager of an upscale restaurant in his fairy tale employment history.


Many employers and organizations have found to their dismay that newly hired personnel have been "faking the bacon" when it comes to their qualifications.

I wonder about the thoroughness of background checks. A significant number of people must fall through the cracks. Every year we hear of make-believe physicians, without any medical qualifications, masquerading in hospitals for weeks and months without being detected.

My son Steve has seen some creative resumes over the years. He remarked, a bit facetiously, on one he recently came across. Under previous experience the fellow supposedly stated he "assisted God in assembly of the Earth." Under areas of responsibility he wrote: "landscape and small mammals."

While growing up Mama often used a saying she learned as a child in Switzerland. In German it goes something like this: "Ein man kann reisen bescheiden durchs lend mit dem hut in der hand." Translated: "A man can journey throughout the land with his hat in his hand." Mama and Daddy were humble people. They discouraged self-exaltation in their kids.

A higher authority than our parents spoke to the sin of pride. The Bible, in both the old and new testaments, speaks against pride, including it with "deceit, sensuality, envy, slander and foolishness," in Mark 7:22.

"A proud look," is the first thing listed in Proverbs 6 as one of the seven things that are an "abomination" to God. Proverbs 16:18 states: "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling." In Proverbs 27:2 we learn this: "Let another praise you, and not you're own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips."

Imperial Valley Press Managing Editor Bret Kofford has interviewed many nationally known performers over the years in his work as a contributing writer to Blues Revue magazine and to other publications. He said the more renowned the individual and the longer the time of the renown, the greater the possibility of a "certain amount of humility kicking in. The ones just reaching fame are sometimes obnoxious. It seems to take some time to get used to acclaim, " Kofford said. "I read somewhere that fame and acclaim is not natural for the psyche of people. One hundred years ago the only famous people were royalty, and look how crazy most kings and queens and princes were."

If a person has ever taken the time to read the personal ads in newspapers, one would think there are only bright, good-looking, confident men and women seeking romance and adventure.

A recent example: "Stunning, vivacious, intelligent, honest, humble, humorous, sensuous, stable DWF (I believe this means divorced, white female) 63, seeks like male, 55-65, for love, laughs."

I would like to see something a little more honest: "Tired, forgetful grandmother with varicose veins and swollen ankles, sagging biceps and a turkey neck, seeks honest, middle-aged man with good sense of humor who appreciates spur-of-the-moment activities as long as they end by 9 p.m."

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