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By April 30, 2024Humility

When a highly respected writer eloquently and convincingly explains an opinion you’ve been offering for years, it is both empowering and humbling. In his recent New York Times guest essay “The Most Important Thing I Teach My Students Isn’t on the Syllabus,” Frank Bruni, professor, columnist and author of the book The Age of Grievance, which comes out today, outlines concerns about “cosmic outrage,” self-obsessed social media that is “better at inflaming us than uniting us,” and a host of related issues affecting the “problem of humility.”

Bruni observes, “We live in an era defined by grievance — by too many Americans’ obsession with how they’ve been wronged and their insistence on wallowing in ire.” He rightly calls out Donald Trump for elevating conceit and self-importance to new heights, recalling his shockingly unhumble 2016 campaign promise that “I alone can fix it.”

Moreover, Bruni’s essay shares some key advice he gives his students. Such as, “Governing, as opposed to demagoguery, is about earning others’ trust and cooperation.” Using multiple examples, validated by multiple independent sources, Bruni encourages all of us to embrace the understanding and insight we gain through listening, through curiosity and, most of all, through humility.

“While grievance blows our concerns out of proportion, humility puts them in perspective,” Bruni writes, concluding, “Humility is the antidote to grievance.” At the risk of coming across as suspiciously unhumble, it is refreshing as lead writer for hundreds of these Humble Sky essays and as author of the book Humble Sky, to see the virtue of humility reaching The Times’ readership as well as teaching journalism students at Duke University.

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