Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
The desire and drive to self-promote is synonymous with the heart of mankind. Everyone is tempted to exalt and extol themselves, on either a large or small scale. Trying to impress others by bragging on accomplishments, earned credentials, prestigious positions, and important responsibilities has become a growing phenomenon. In modern day America, humility and meekness are considered undesirable character traits. Bragging, swagger, self-confidence and bluster are coveted attributes. Three observations:
First, no one does self-promotion better than politicians. That seems to be part of the job description.. “I am not sure I know the answer to that complex problem,” said no politico ever. The self-described public servant has an answer for everything and they put their own ‘spin’ on it.
How effective a politician can put ‘spin’ on issues and situations determines just how far they can go in the industry. Spin isn’t about suppressing the truth, but more about leaving out truth from the narrative. As the old saying goes; “No one knows what you know or what you don’t know.” Political operatives are paid big bucks to ‘spin’ stories to an unsuspecting public. The goal is to ‘sell’ the message. The key to stopping the ‘spin’ is a public that is skeptical and a little bit cynical. If citizens stayed consistently engaged and paid close attention to their government, the spin doctor’s tales would fall on deaf ears.
Second, self-promotion is self-serving. Self-promotion is often nothing more than idle chatter and accomplishes nothing. “Put your money where your mouth is,’ means action follow words. Self-promotion can energize a crowd and might lead to action, but in most cases it does little more than glorify the self-promoter. Most braggarts are quick to point out their superiority over others. They can run faster and jump higher than anyone else, but actually running a race requires capital they are unwilling to invest.
Third, self-promotion is not Christian. Throughout scripture, believers are told to be meek, humble, self-effacing, discreet, and unassuming. No place in the Bible commands believers to ‘toot your own horn,’ or to ‘pat yourself on the back.’ Yet, the vast majority of politicians, even those who profess to be believers, never miss a chance to brag and boast of what they have accomplished. Solomon wrote that pride goes before a fall. Jeremiah 9:23 says a smart man shouldn’t boast about his intelligence, a strong man about his strength and a rich man about his wealth. True believers brag on Christ, and not themselves.
Self-promotion naturally flows out of all men, even when trying to suppress it. The growth of social media has contributed to the rise of self-promotion. However, the real issue is the gullibility of citizens that are easily persuaded to believe something that is not only half true or not true at all. But not all are fooled by self-promotion. In a 2015 study by the Association of Psychological Science (APS), self-promoters were often perceived in a negative way by those they are trying to impress. Instead of accomplishing the desired effect of impressing others, they actually damage their image with their target audience. What braggers and self-promoters don’t recognize is while they are lifting themselves up, they often unintentionally put others down. They come across as conceited and self-centered.
The old saying, ‘it ain’t bragging if you can do it,’ is dumb. It doesn’t cease to be boasting just because you can do it. An increase in humility and self-abnegation in America just might result in God’s healing of our land.