Saturday, July 7, 2007

Humility, by Barry Yelton

The politicians and the pundits are forever declaiming as to what America needs - more healthcare, immigration reform, a new strategy in Iraq, etc. I would propose that of all the things America needs, corporately and individually, the greatest is good old fashioned humility.
Humility is so important as to be the very key to reaching a solution for the many ills that afflict our nation and our world, if we can but see the obvious. I am not speaking of that sort of humility equated with an inferiority complex or false modesty, rather the kind of humility referred to in the Bible, which implies a modest unpretentiousness.
I believe the achievement of personal humility to be the result of true emotional maturity. Humility’s opposite arrogance and its cousin pride are on the other hand indicative of a kind of emotional immaturity. This sort of arrogance is vividly on display daily in the mugging, preening videos of popular musicians of virtually every type. They possess the emotional maturity of two year olds who have successfully gone to the potty.
As musicians and celebrities mug for the camera, they declare, “Look at me. I am the greatest thing since sliced bread.” Likewise, some of the demonstrations performed in the end zone after a touchdown are equally absurd, arrogant, and juvenile.
The examples are numerous and they do not end with popular music and sports, though in the areas of serious endeavor, they are both more subtle and more troubling. Politicians, for example, universally believe they have all the answers, while their opponents are hopelessly misguided or malicious. The fast trackers in the business world look down on the plodders, wielding their Wharton MBA’s like avatars. The rich often disdain the poor.
Arrogance is often seen as a virtue in modern America, a sort of autocratic platform from which to view the world. When and where this came to be, I am not sure. I am sure it is in simply the preening of the emotionally immature.
Humility, on the other hand, practiced by such luminaries as Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Robert E. Lee, and most dramatically, Jesus Christ, has an amazing palliative effect on relationships among individuals as well as groups. Humble people do not push and prod, but instead accommodate and defer. Humility offers a “soft answer which turns away wrath.”
I believe possessing an unassuming attitude while achieving great things may well be the single highest attainment of which human kind is capable. At the very least, it is clearly one of the most endearing qualities a person can possess and something to be highly valued.

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