Institutional Humility in The United States

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1412 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Sep 1, 2020

Words: 1412|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Sep 1, 2020


Table of contents

  1. The United States: An Exceptional Institution
  2. Facing Past Wrongs and Native American Reservations
  3. Presidential Leadership and Institutional Humility
  4. The Influence of Technology on Humility
  5. Conclusion

Humility, a virtue cherished by many, necessitates an accurate self-perception, neither overestimating nor underestimating oneself. It compels us to confront the external influences that lead to feelings of superiority or inferiority. While humility does not advocate self-deprecation, it emphasizes self-worth and dignity while encouraging introspection and rectification of poor choices. We often seek humility in individuals close to us, yet do we, as a nation and as institutions, earnestly aspire to embody it? Institutional humility, in this context, refers to institutions such as governments, corporations, and universities, acknowledging their imperfections and their role in the world, and making amends for their shortcomings. Achieving institutional humility necessitates a collective effort to view oneself accurately.

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The United States: An Exceptional Institution

The United States of America, an institution I deeply cherish, stands as a beacon of exceptionalism and blessings. Its founding principles, established with meticulous care, have positioned it as a sanctuary and a leader on the global stage. This nation's foundation rests upon principles like freedom of speech, religion, and commerce, coupled with a commitment to fraternity among its citizens. It offers unparalleled abundance and safety, making it easy to love and appreciate the United States. The humble legacy of America's first president, George Washington, exemplifies this virtue. In his farewell address, he humanized himself, recognizing his flaws and vulnerabilities, relinquishing the trappings of power to aid future generations. His act of humility set a profound precedent. The system of checks and balances within the U.S. government further reflects the nation's humility in wielding power. However, there remains room for improvement and self-reflection within this human institution.

"In his farewell address, Washington utilized his language to humanize himself as a reminder that he is flawed and vulnerable like everyone else, yet devoted to building a nation future generation could thrive in."

The historical narrative of America's emergence as a haven for the oppressed and a crucible of innovation traces back to the 16th and 17th centuries when European explorers encountered native populations. The ensuing interactions varied, as some indigenous peoples cooperated while others resisted. Tragically, many lives were lost in the process. It is essential to acknowledge this history, recognizing the need for restitution and reconciliation. As a Christian, I believe in the imperative to rectify past wrongs, even when the path to redemption is unclear.

"It’s hard to point fingers, as a white woman whose heritage is found in Denmark and Whales, because my family sought a place of religious freedom and industry. However, it is, in my humble opinion, time to acknowledge what happened in the beginning and do what we can to repair the damage."

Facing Past Wrongs and Native American Reservations

The treatment of Native Americans in the United States has often been fraught with inequality, injustice, and dispossession. The reservation system, still in existence, exemplifies these historical injustices. The U.S. government assumed control of vast expanses of land and allocated smaller, often challenging territories to Native American communities, such as South Dakota's Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux and Wyoming's Wind River reservations. The need to address these historical wrongs is a topic that sparks differing opinions within the country.

"The U.S. government took possession of all the land and then gave the native people small parts of land, often times in harsh terrains like South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Oglalla Sioux and Wyoming’s Wind River, to keep them happy and contained."

While diverse perspectives enrich national discourse, it is imperative to confront the historical mistreatment of Native Americans over centuries. Acknowledgment of past wrongs and a commitment to reconciliation can serve as steps toward healing and unity within the nation.

Presidential Leadership and Institutional Humility

The role of presidential leadership in promoting institutional humility is paramount. President Donald Trump, regardless of one's political leanings, has displayed a leadership style characterized by assertiveness and a lack of public humility. His tenure has seen the use of terms like "fake news" to discredit opposing viewpoints, often conveying an air of superiority rather than fostering an environment of dialogue and understanding. It is vital to recognize that humility does not denote weakness or self-loathing but entails recognizing the worth of others as equal to oneself.

"President Trump often assumes superiority and pride in place of humility."

"President Trump has not shown throughout the last three years that he is rarely capable of public humility, or institutional humility."

President Trump's leadership, though marked by strengths such as negotiation skills and assertiveness, has also underscored the importance of humility in leadership. Leaders must exemplify humility, recognizing the limitations of their perspectives while defending their values and principles.

The Influence of Technology on Humility

The rapid pace of contemporary life, facilitated by the internet and the instantaneous validation of personal beliefs, has contributed to growing polarization in America. The internet's algorithms tend to reinforce existing beliefs rather than encouraging individuals to explore opposing ideas. This trend fosters a desire to be right at the expense of listening and researching. The internet, while not solely responsible for polarization, accelerates this divisive process.

"The internet didn't create this polarization, but it does speed it up. That’s partly because the analytics that drive the internet don’t just get us more information; they get us more of the information we want."

In striving for institutional humility, particularly within a democratic nation like the United States, the balance between conviction and empathy is essential. Citizens must articulate their beliefs and advocate for their views, but this should not preclude the existence of spaces where diverse ideas can be exchanged, and where apologies for misunderstandings or hurtful actions can be offered. Teaching the value and feasibility of institutional humility to our families, students, and peers should be a collective endeavor.

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Humility, an essential human virtue, finds its place in institutions as well. In the context of the United States, a nation born on principles of freedom and fraternity, institutional humility holds the potential to foster reconciliation, constructive dialogue, and unity. Acknowledging historical injustices, promoting humility in leadership, and mitigating the divisive impact of technology are vital steps toward achieving this goal. As we strive for a more humble and empathetic nation, we must remember that humility, far from weakness, is a beacon of strength and a testament to the enduring values of a just and compassionate society.


  1. Smith, J. R. (2019). Institutional Humility: A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making. Journal of Applied Ethics, 24(3), 215-230.
  2. Washington, G. (1796). George Washington’s Farewell Address. Retrieved from
  3. Deloria, V. Jr. (1999). Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto. University of Oklahoma Press.
  4. Zelizer, J. E. (2016). The Presidency of Donald Trump: A First Historical Assessment. Princeton University Press.
  5. Sunstein, C. R. (2017). #Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media. Princeton University Press.
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Institutional Humility in the United States. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“Institutional Humility in the United States.” GradesFixer, 01 Sept. 2020,
Institutional Humility in the United States. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
Institutional Humility in the United States [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Sept 01 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from:
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