Wednesday, July 02, 2008

How Today’s World Does Humble

I was flipping through the channels yester eve and came upon a celebrity talking about her newest album and acting gig. She is a very big celebrity, a pop diva, but I’m not going to reveal her name. In the few minutes I watched, she spoke very highly of her own talent, about how her music had touched people and how she had a gift for acting, though she had not often been challenged. Then they interviewed one of her friends/ relatives who said that though she had been a superstar since childhood she was one of the few stars who was “authentically humble.”

Now, I think the woman is talented. She’s won awards and has a nice voice, although I don’t care at all for her music. She is certainly very beautiful. But humble? Come on! She just spent ten minutes bragging on herself and it looked as if—though no one can see inside her mind, of course—that she’s never had a moment of self-doubt in her life.

Certainly she wasn’t snobby or mean-spirited about it. She didn’t do any “in your face trash talking,” which I despise in so many athletes today, or put-down any other musicians/actresses. But there was not a humble bone in her body. She’s rich, beautiful, and famous, and she knows it. She accepts all accolades as her due.

Contrast that to how Jake Delhomme carried himself after he almost single-handedly kept the Carolina Panthers within reach of a super bowl victory a few years ago. The “only” thing he said about himself was that it hurt to lose. Everything else was about the quality of his teammates and the quality of the opposing players. He gave everyone their due and never once even said, “well I thought I played pretty well.” That’s humble. That is honor. That’s the kind of role model I want my son to see, but which I myself see far too seldom.

Today’s world has a different view on “humble” than did the world I grew up in. Apparently, bragging on yourself can be seen as humble today, to which I can only say WTF. Of course, today’s world has a different view on many things. Consider “respect.” Respect today is all about getting it, never about giving it. Or what about the way in which humiliating one’s “enemy” on a field of games is cheered by the crowds? I’m glad at least that the NFL has banned taunting. What kind of “sportsman” taunts a defeated opponent? A sportsman I don’t care to know or cheer for myself.

Man, do I sound like an old fogy or what? Maybe I’m just getting old. Next thing you know I’ll be sitting on my deck in a rocking chair ranting about those “kids today.” Or is that what I just did? I think I’ll shut up now.


Lana Gramlich said...

Fear not, baby. We can grow old & crotchety together! :)

SzélsőFa said...

If this is what old-fashioned means, definitely count me in in your circle.

Steve Malley said...

I'm with you on this one.

Actually, so is more or less the whole of New Zealand. Our celebrities have to move to the US or Australia to brag, and I do believe taunting on the sports field would get a rugby player removed from the team!

the walking man said...

It's their game, I'm content to watch in amusement as things become important and devolve so something new can take the spot vacated.

laughingwolf said...

natural-born curmudgeon, charles? lol

dinna fret overmuch, laddie... i are one, too ;) hahahahaha

maybe that's why i concur with your observations?

Greg said...

not much to disagree with there. seems especially with the generation(s) growing up now, no one wants to pay their dues or respect their elders (or anyone else). everyone feels a sense of entitlement. i think that's what's killing us.

Bernita said...

I hear you.

Randy Johnson said...

All I can say is make room on your deck for my rocking chair.

BernardL said...

There is such a fine line between quiet confidence and self aggrandizement, it takes solid character to walk the line skillfully.

‘Next thing you know I’ll be sitting on my deck in a rocking chair ranting about those “kids today.”

I’m already on it, Charles. Welcome aboard. :)

Heff said...

"Old" or not, Charles, I'm agreeing with your view here.

Travis Erwin said...

I hated it when the Saint let Delhomme go to the Panthers.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lana, yeah!

Szelsofa, so counted.

Steve Malley, that sounds wonderful. Some people with class.

Mark, I don't watch basketball anymore because of the players' attitudes and behaviors. But I sill like football, or hope to.

Laughingwolf, good to hear.

Greg Schwartz, I agree with the entitlement point. I see it so often in students.

Bernita, aye.

Randy Johnson, good thing I've got a big deck.

Bernardl, yes, confidence is one thing, bragging is another. But sometimes it is a delicate line.

Heff, I hear ya.

Leon, yep.

Travis Erwin, I was furious. The Saints never even gave him a chance, even when Bad News Brooks was injured. That's when I completely gave up on Haslett as a head coach.

Lisa said...

I find myself making more and more old fogeyish statements and I now understand how that happens.

American culture and the media have really reflected a change from the values we were taught (be modest, don't brag) to this irrational overconfidence and boastfulness that I see on reality TV shows and with younger celebrities. I think a good illustration of that is just the sheer number of people who turn up to audition for shows like American Idol. I don't watch it regularly, but I have seen it a few times and the number of deluded people who believe that, not only they are talented, but that they qualify as the most talented new singer in this country of 300 million people is staggering. I'm amazed when I see the early stage auditions and what reads as legitimate shock on the parts of some of the people auditioning, when they're told they are out of their league. They are generally angry and seem to think that their exceptional talent is not being recognized accurately by the judges.

Where do these people come from? Why do people grow up with such a false sense of confidence and self-worth?

Call me old fashioned too.

RichardS said...

I too, from what was once considered a civilised country where it's inhabitants portrayed qualities of stiff-upper lip and self restraint - the UK if you're unsure - relate to the comments here.

The world today seems full of brashness and rage, ego and self delusion. So glad to read these comments to see that I'm not alone.

Cath said...

Charles, I am sooooo with you 100% and more.

You are right. Totally. Nothing to add to it.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Good rant! If that is what it means to feel old, then I am definintely an old fogey also.

Shauna Roberts said...

The movement to help people have self-esteem seems instead to have led to selfish, self-centered people who think they're better than others.

Donnetta said...

Oh, I'm older than you are and I tend to think the same way. I wonder if it's more a matter of how we were raised. That kind of bragging was thought of as inappropriate behavior. Self important. Not necessarily self assured.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lisa, I never had any self confidence as a child. Never very much as an adult. And I've always been tormented by self-doubt. I don't understand folks who go through life just knowing they are better than others.

Richards, the fact that it seems to be spreading world wide suggests a media influence to me. We watch many of the same kinds of TV shows and sports and it's bleeding through everywhere. Thanks for dropping in.

Crazycath, nods. yeap.

Ello, a rant is therapeutic on occassion eh?

Shauna, I think that's exactly it. Self esteem is good if it is backed up by some level of performance. But we seemed to have created folks with so much self esteem that performance has fallen out the window.

Donnetta, my relatives would have taken me down a notch if I'd ever talked like that. They certainly wouldn't have admired my "authentic humbleness."

Mimi Lenox said...

I didn't get the sense you were being old at all. I totally agree. There is a rampant loss of respect growing in youth today, due in part to the lack of humility - as you said - in the role models they see.

It is, indeed, the Age of Entitlement.
Well said.

Travis Cody said...

I'm leaning toward crotchety too.

I did a 20 minute rant at the office the other day on the whole thing with the player from the Red Sox (childishly, I refuse to use his name) who shoved a 65 year old secretary to the ground, because the secretary had the audacity to suggest that extra tickets to a game might not be available for the player.

Evidently the secretary didn't respect the ball player enough, so he deserved to be shoved and shouted at to "do your job".


Cath said...

Charles - I have an award for you at mine. Pop over and see....

ivan said...

Well, in the Seventies in Canada we had a rock band called Uriah Heep.

They weren't necessarily 'Umble.

Erik Donald France said...

Well stated, for sure.

And always nice to see a reference to the Carolina Panthers. Back in the 70s, there was briefly as pro basketball team called the Carolina Cougars (memory trigger here). No idea what happened to them or why.

Aretha Franklin: R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

Give the Devil his due, but first pay the dues.

Barbara Martin said...

Don't shut up. Us old fogeys have to stick together.

david mcmahon said...



Naaah, I wouldn't describe you with those words.


YUP! I'd call you that.

Anonymous said...

I'm an old fogey too. Or is that foggy? I think I'm both a fogey and I'm foggy. Some of these people suffer from over self-esteem which cancels out self-esteem and means that they are just talking self-esteem and not really living it. Now, I humbly retire and try to figure out what I just said.

Charles Gramlich said...

Mimi, I realized that I probably built up my own son's self esteem a bit much when he was little, but as a teenager a combination of events served to bring him back to groundedness.

Travis, what a tough guy eh? *shaking head.*

Crazycath, I saw that. Thank you very much. I really appreciate your thoughtfullness. :)

Ivan, "I was stealin' when I shoulda been buyin'" The Heap had some great songs.

Erik, I root for the Panthers most of the time, sometimes even when they play the Saints. I admire Delhomme.

Barbara, :) Indeed.

David McMahon, thankee. ;)

Jack, well you made me feel a bit foggy for sure. ;) But it's not unusual for me.

Merisi said...

Charles, never fear, you can take that kind of old, can't you? ;-)

I am surprised this woman does not have a trusted person among her friends or advisors, who would notice how bad she sounds (besides the fact that any interview can be cut in such a way that what is published is a far cry from what was actually said! Sad but oh so true).

Sarai said...

I concur the other day I was talking to a newly published author asking her to stop by and she told me she didn't have time she was TOO BUSY writing and OTHERS had requested her attention but her writing was SO good that she just couldn't image taking time off the PEOPLE are wanting her books??? Really b/c you just lost a fan and no I won't be reading you WONDERFUL books ever again.
Thank you.

chris said...

I had to make it over here sooner or later,since I seem to be everywhere else.

Charles what a great topic for me to walk into, I can remember saying as a teen ager,I'll never say that to my kids. Well I don't have childern and at 43 I don't think I will start any time soon, maybe at 60, hell I still feel young.

I have had this same conversation with many people, the latest was with a red head from Detroit,not to long ago.

I can agree with every comment here so much that I can not even think of one to add to it.

Read your BIO, awhile back, Man ride safe and defensive, keep the rubber side down and yes WFO. This is a great read and if I am considered old by todays standards I'M not convinced yet.

Well it is time for me to take the ride home, up to the mountains where I live. I guess I had better do some anniversary shoping first or I will be in the dog house tomorrow.

Michelle's Spell said...


I love this post. It's definitely icky to see someone who isn't very gracious/humble and all that. I think I'm going to do a post next week on the flip side of the same coin which is false modesty. It seems that people are either sucked into two forms of behavior -- lots of I'm so great or I don't do anything well, I suck. Both are a little depressing. And your point about the singer is well made -- if you're so great, you usually don't have to go on and on about it. Talent speaks for itself.

Charles Gramlich said...

Merisi, that's certainly true about how an interview can be cut to make folks look a certain way. I'll give this woman the benefit of the doubt because maybe that's just what happened to her. But I do hear this kind of stuff in real life all the time.

Sarai, some people are just purty dang stupid, it would seem.

Chris, thanks for visiting. Definitely better not forget that anniversary present. Riding free is hard when you're nailed to the floor. ;)

Michelle, you're right, the other side of the coin can also be unpleasant. It's a fine line to walk, and different people do have different views on exactly where the line is.