Note to readers: I had shoulder surgery last Friday and am struggling to become proficient as a one-handed blogger, at least for a month, which is how long I must wear a sling. Thus the title for this post. If I were a teenager I could have produced this with one thumb. Alas, as an aging adult I had to look at the keyboard and follow each finger with my eyes. At least doing this even the slow, excruciating way is preferable to physical therapy, which is another slow and excruciating activity created by a cult of androids who smile softly as they push and pull on my joints until I cry out in pain.
Is the world, or better said, the contemporary Western world, ready for humility? Living in the land of blowhards, especially as campaign season begins to heat up, it would be easy to conclude that the political world, along with the worlds of Hollywood, Wall Street and reality TV are not going to endorse or practice humility any time soon. Nonetheless, in the midst of all those who believe that shouting will bring them the attention they deserve, are writers and scholars who are asking us to reflect on the value of humility. Their ideas are worth considering, especially as an alternative to “Hey, listen to me. Give me your attention, because I am famous/important/wealthy/bold/or simply unaware that I am hopelessly screwed up.”
In his 2007 collection of essays, Dharma Breeze, Rev. Nobuo Haneda speaks of humility as “the most important of human virtues… ” He says, The ultimate goal in human life is to become humble…A humble person can have the greatest happiness and joy. He quotes another Buddhist writer, Rev. Manshi Kiyozawa as saying, Both our anguish and grief exist because of our sense of self-importance…If we have already lost it, we do not mind whether others despise or honor us, or whether they slight or respect us.
Rev. Haneda explains that humility comes in a later stage of our lives — the maturing period — when we start to look back, reflect on what we have accomplished and at the same time recognize the arrogance we displayed in pursuing our earlier ambitions.
Another writer interested in humility is Viral Mehta, who asks on the Huffington Post website, Why is Humility so Underrated? He cites David R. Hawkins, a Silicon Valley blogger, who explains that genius requires humility. Mr. Hawkins says, Those who are humble and grateful for illumination received tend to have the capacity to access genius; those who credit the inspiration to their own ego soon lose this capacity, or are destroyed by their success.
Mr. Mehta believes we should be able to find our way between the egoism of Donald Trump and Sarah Palin and the self-flagellation one sees on religious pilgrimages in some parts of the world. An inflated self-valuation is clearly problematic, but so is a faltering sense of self-worth; both extremes feed into an insecurity that becomes more vested in proving value than in adding to it.
His recommendation is to become aware of our thought patterns and identify how they affect our perceptions of ourselves and those around us. Like Rev. Haneda, who sees humility as more likely to come to us in a later stage of life, Mr. Mehta says, Humility
gives us permission to withhold conclusion and realize that what we are is still emerging.