Ira Williams has posted a great article (beautifully laid out in a PDF, btw) on ChangeThis called "Speak Softly." Definitely worth a read.
http://changethis.com/19.SpeakSoftly/downloadfrom the article:
"As Americans, we have a deeply rooted sense of individualism that is at the heart of our unprecedented rise to power in less than 250 years of existence. The unalienable rights described in the Declaration of Independence have empowered Americans to approach our lives with unfettered optimism and the belief that there is little that can stand in the way of our “pursuit of happiness”.
As a result, our view of the outside world, for better or worse, tends to be informed by the world’s impact on us.
‡ “How do the policies of our government affect my day to day life?”
‡ “How does the performance of my company affect my pay check?” ‡ “How well is my school district preparing my kids for college?” ‡ “Why does it cost so much to put gas in my car?”
This is not to say that we, as a nation, are completely self-absorbed and blind to the needs of others. We have a long history of generosity that continues to this day. We sends billions of dollars in aid around the world to help relieve the suffering of others.
The generosity of Americans is not in question. The humility of Americans is.
Remember, for most of us, humility is equated with weakness. Americans are repelled by weakness of any sort. We crave strength because strength facilitates success and success is believed to be key to our pursuit of happiness.
I submit, however, that it requires tremendous strength and character to place others’ interests before your own.
I believe that by moving our self-orientation to the background, and truly focusing upon enhancing
the lives of those around us, we can attain a more balanced perspective of the world while simultaneously finding greater personal fulfillment for ourselves.
Because here’s the secret: In order to be humble, you have to be strong. And you have to be so comfortable with that strength that you don’t have to flaunt it.