Luis Guillermo Solis Gives Up Vanity
Costa Rica president ends ‘worship’ of his office | Al Jazeera America
Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis, a month into his first tem in office, doesn’t want his name on plaques at public works or his portrait hung in public offices.
In a decree, Solis prohibited his name from being used on plaques inaugurating bridges, roads and buildings, as had been the custom in previous administrations. From now on, plaques will carry only the year the project was inaugurated, according to the BBC.
They are everywhere, in public buildings, state offices and any other public edifice. The pictures and the plaques of the men and women “responsible” for their construction and continuation. They are a muted form of immortality, at least as long as our civilization continues.
And yet, Luis Guillermo Solis, the President of Costa Rico, has dispensed with this. He says, “The works are from the country and not from a government or a particular official.” In this he is very much correct, yet his stand against such things is very much the exception.
Vanity or vainglory or self-idolatry has been recognized as a fault for much of history. However, we in the United States are very much taken with it. We like to think of ourselves in grandiose ways. We tell ourselves that our electronic devices make us more than human and many look forward to cyborgs and trans-humanity.
Is vanity a business ethics problem?
Absolutely. The CEO who buys with company money a $6,000 dollar shower curtain or a one million dollar birthday party for his wife, has got a problem with vanity. How many billions of dollars are spent each year out of money invested by or due others in every kind of business on frivolities, on bizarre perks or just spent because they can?
The Greeks believed that hubris or overweening pride was a major fault but not us. We put chief executive officers on magazine covers and lionize them as “job creators.” I have watched in astonishment as disgraced CEO’s are showered with attention and allowed to recover their reputations. Jordan Belfort is now a motivational speaker. After a disastrous tenure at Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina has been appointed to numerous corporate boards and travels the country dispensing advice. Corporate predators who destroyed thousands of jobs are consulted about issues of public important, as if their very notoriety meant expertise.
We would do better in this nation and practice virtue ethics and exalt in public the characteristics that make for good and great citizens, leaders and Americans. And not just exalt the good but diminish the bad, we should be cruel to the corrupt and incompetent. They be publicly shamed for their crimes whether prosecuted or not. How much virtue can you have if wickedness is not punished?
On The Same Subject
Hubris according to Merriam Webster is a great or foolish amount of pride or confidence. I meet and talk to a number of entrepreneurs and investors, I am always on the lookout for characteristics of Hubris. I am not being judgemental, but what hubris does is it gets in the way of learning.
Owen, who trained as a neurologist/psychiatrist before going into politics, coined the term “Hubris Syndrome” to describe how power can change the personality of power-holders, not just in politics, but in every realm of life ranging from business to the media.