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Friday, August 20, 2010

The Ethical Implications of Self-Confidence

Today on the news was the story of an accident in which an older classic car was rear ended. The impact caused the car to catch fire. The driver was not able to get out of the car. Several people, two in particular, came to the driver’s aid. After working for about two minutes (though it seemed a lot longer) they were able to pull the driver out of his burning car. The driver suffered some injury from the collision itself, and also some burns from the fire. Obviously, without the assistance of the two strangers, he would not have survived at all. The two men who came immediately to his aid displayed solid self-confidence in their ability to assist in the aftermath of the accident. Certainly, the men’s action can be considered ethical behavior of a high order—behavior that would not have occurred if the men lacked self-confidence. In this light, it can be seen that acquiring self-confidence is important not only to accomplish work, but also in responding to ethical imperatives. (Jesus without self-confidence is unimaginable.) Thus, instilling self-confidence in people has great moral significance since it has implications for ethical action.

Since self-confidence is vital for ethical growth and action, it is worth considering how self-confidence is instilled. It is instilled by positive experiences of many types—at home, school, work, at social encounters. Specifically, the self-confident person comes to feel that they can make a positive contribution. Obviously, self-confidence can be distinguished from selfish pride, egomania, and self-righteousness--all self-centered characteristics. Self-confidence (odd as it may seem since it is a form of personal empowerment) is not self-centered, but as the rescuers after the traffic accident demonstrate, it elicits service to others—it is other-directed. It is in society’s interest to cultivate individuals with strong self-confidence for the sake of the individuals’ own happiness and for society’s good.

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