Humility is a virtue all preach, yet very few practice. In today’s busy and competitive society, people often want to get ahead of others whether it may be at home, in school, in the workplace or even in the community. We become too engulfed in the sweetness of success and go to different heights just to keep our own mountains safe. Pride overrules humility and arrogance becomes the laurel to rest on.
Humility, then, becomes an orphaned virtue of our generation. It barely stands a chance.
In simple understanding of humility, it is the act of showing modesty and respect to self and others without pretensions. Contrary to the common misconception, humility is not the same as being timid or unassertive. Being humble does not mean that you undervalue yourself; instead, it means you value others just as you value yourself.
True humility is the consciousness of standing in the presence of greatness, yet still possessing the ability to open up to something greater than oneself. A humble person has the ability to genuinely admire the victories of others while keeping hold of his or her self-esteem.
“To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them,” a French philosopher once said. Greatness is not just the sum of knowledge and skill. Attitude, values and character are all key ingredient.
In its various forms
Arrogance, as a result of the dearth of humility, comes in many forms. In the school, professors are as varied as a box of chocolates. Some we love for their intelligence, wit, and humor. Some we hate for their austerity, monotony and technological regression. Some are just so-so, neither loved nor hated. True, there may be instances when students know more than their teachers; as in the case of doctors who are taking up a nursing course. However, these instances do not necessarily mean that we are better than our instructors and we do not need to respect them anymore.
In the workplace, there may also be personnel who know more than their boss. But in most organizations, the principle of hierarchy tells us that members are arranged in ranks through seniority and not skill. A more experienced subordinate does not, therefore, earn the right to lose his or her respect towards his or her superior.
Human as we are, we commit mistakes, no matter how hard we try not to. We see our professors making mistakes in their lectures. We see our boss getting the accounts wrong. Hostility, as a form of aggression, is not an apt behavior from a mature individual. As responsible members of society, we need to remember how aggression and assertion differ very much in principle and in action. Humbleness in the face of one’s failures is a great challenge that calls for sincerity.
There will always be a demarcation line between those who lead and those who are supposed to follow. With this, humility is required and respect becomes obligatory.
Blessed are those…
Humility is all about maintaining our pride about who we are, about our achievements, about our worth – but without arrogance. It is about a quiet confidence without the need for publicity. It is about being content in letting others discover themselves the layers of our talents without having to impose on them. It is the absence of arrogance in the pursuit of achievement.
When we approach situations from the perspective of humility, it opens us up to possibilities. We choose to be open-minded and curious rather than being protective of our personal interests. We spend more time in that wonderful space of the beginner’s mind, willing to learn from what others have to offer. We move away from pushing into allowing, from insecure to secure and from seeking approval to seeking enlightenment.
Remember that being in a high position is not always parallel to having a perfect performance, the same as how being in a low position does not equate to mediocrity. Your position in the school, in an organization, or in the society will not define who you are. Living up to the expectations of your position will.
Humility is a transcending virtue that should be practiced by all, even to those who are not in authority. For it is said that, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”