What does it mean to live a life of humility?
The world in general and Americans in particular scorn meek leaders. They equate such a person as a Caspar Milquetoast, a character who existed in our national comics from 1925-1953 as “The Timid Soul.” Made famous by H.T. Webster, Caspar was a character who spoke softly and got hit with a big stick. Caspar was spineless and a person who was easily dominated and intimidated. Even his last name is a derivation of milk toast!
People will say, “Surely you aren’t suggesting our national leaders practice being meek in our dog eat dog society of today?” However, that is precisely what I am suggesting.
My understanding of what it means to be meek, i.e. humble, comes from my faith journey. About a decade ago I participated in a small group study of the beatitudes — a synopsis of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew, and I began to look at this topic from a different angle. Lots of people can recite the Ten Commandments, but not many can quote any of the beatitudes. A host of us, including me, also find them difficult to put into practice!
In thinking about the focus of this blog, my thoughts kept going back to the fourth beatitude. Here are two translations, plus my own paraphrase.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. ~ NRSV Matt. 5:5
You’re blessed when you are content with just who you are — no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourself proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
Happy is the person whose relationship with God overflows into actions of love toward all mankind. Such a person is comfortable in their own skin and doesn’t feel the need to constantly advertise his/her virtues to the world.
These translations bring with them some worthy goals for all of humankind:
- Be gentle and then you can become bold and humble.
- Be frugal and then you can be liberal.
- Look at the world through your heart.
Being humble is accepting that without God’s wisdom and love I am empty.
Being humble is refusing to use one’s position of power for personal gain or as a tool of retaliation.
When politicians use the following talking points you can be sure that humility isn’t in their game plan:
- I am never wrong.
- No one can stop me.
- I’m the only person who can fix our problems.
- I have all the answers.
The humble resist making rash statements — especially false statements simply to gain political clout or to throw up a smokescreen to detract attention from a more divisive subject. Creating a life of humility is a daily practice that becomes fulfilling and trickles down to fill up our hearts and minds.
QUOTES I LIKE
A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing.
— Albert Einstein
Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
Stay hungry, stay young, stay foolish, stay curious, and above all, stay humble because just when you think you got all the answers, is the moment when some bitter twist of fate in the universe will remind you that you very much don’t.
— Tom Hiddleston
Nothing is more deceitful,” said Darcy, “than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.
— Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Following Jesus is very hard, though it is not complicated.
— John Pierce
True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.
— Rick Warren