Most of us completely misunderstand the word humility. It's usually confused with a cringing meek attitude, submissiveness or self-deprecation.
We think it means saying we're not a very good golfer when we know we really are. That's not humility. That's being coy and subtly begging for compliments, "Oh, yes you are, you're very good!" As Dag Hammarskjold put it in "Markings," "Humility is just as much the opposite of self-abasement as it is of self-exaltation."
"Do not think that if you meet a really humble person he will be what most people call 'humble,' nowadays:" writes C.S. Lewis, "he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person who is always telling you he is a nobody. He'll seem a cheerful, intelligent chap who takes a real interest in what you say to him. If you do dislike him, it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all."
Humility is so important that it is impossible for anyone to have any type of genuine spiritual life without the virtue of humility. Humility tames the ego and rids us of superficiality and compels us to be true to ourselves and others. Because of the nature of our egos, humility is an extremely slippery quality. In the act of thinking we possess it, we prove to ourselves that we don't. Like happiness, it alights on our shoulder only when we're unaware of it.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Not a Greasy, Smarmy Person
Fr Lou Guntzelman writes about humility in the Batavia, OH, Community Journal. Here is an excerpt quoting C.S. Lewis:
Posted by Joe at 11:02 AM