Sweden beat the US in women’s soccer today. Was that a humbling or a humiliating defeat? The answer depends on how the Americans handled the loss.
Had they all been gracious about the loss, we would say the players and all their fans were humbled. At least one of the Americans, however, was not gracious but childishly accusatory. The Swedes had played like cowards, she said, apparently referring to the game plan of the Swedish team. They played defensive ball until a key point when they could slip in a quick goal.
It’s a good strategy against a team you expect to be your superior. And it worked. Congratulations to the Swedes!
Our goalie, the accuser Hope Solo, in trying to defend her pride, chose to be humiliated rather than graciously humbled. I have long observed that excessive pride (hubris) and shame/humiliation are always linked together, while humility and gracious self-acceptance are always yoked.
This observation has has implications for this year’s political campaign. One candidate says he alone can fix America and he shows a hyper-sensitivity to criticism or even disagreement. This combination creates a sure sign he is terrified of facing the humiliation he feels about himself.
Boys who have more testosterone than sense sometimes try to goad another kid into a fight for no particularly good reason. When the would-be opponent refuses to fight, the bully somehow feels like he has lost and his only retaliation is to charge the other with cowardice.
A grown woman should not be imitating a foolish boy.
Of course, when the Republican nominee thrives on the same immaturity, perhaps we need to be expecting more and more childishness in our midst. Such poor sportsmanship makes America look shamefully juvenile.