Humility is recognizing and accepting our own limitations based on an accurate and modest estimate of our importance and significance. The humble person recognizes he is one among the six billion interdependent people on this earth, earth is one planet circling the sun, and our sun is one of a billion stars in the presently known universe. Our brilliant wisdom is recognized, acknowledged, and accepted along with our profound ignorance. Because of this broad and sound perspective on her significance, the truly humble person cannot be humiliated.
Humility reduces our need for self-justification and allows us to admit to and learn from our mistakes. Our ego stands down. We are better able to balance inquiry with advocacy.
But humble people are easily trampled, oppressed, ignored, or overrun by the arrogant, aggressive, greedy, power-hungry people who are so prominent. No one needs another resentful and helpless wimp, doormat, or milquetoast. There is also no need for false modesty or condescension.
Authentic humility preserves dignity and stands up for the needs of each person. It does not submit to indignity, tolerate violence, or let human needs go unmet, submit to tyranny, or tolerate arrogance. It is authentic because dignity and human needs are authentic, intrinsic to each of us, including ourselves and all others. It is a humility that takes a firm stand for human rights.
Authentically humble people choose to act consistently with their own values rather than submit once again to an impulse. They choose humility over arrogance, stillness over aggression and destruction, cooperation and achievement over rivalry, inclusion over exclusion, needs over wants, peer over power, candor over deceit, stature over status, dignity over disrespect, and authentic over bogus.
Authentic humility is willful, not passive; it understands the significance and potential of a transformation toward humility by all and pursues it relentlessly. It is the simple and symmetrical agreement that I will not trample on you, and I will not be trampled upon. It acts (or remains still) to ensure humility.
We do not tolerate tantrums from two-year olds. Don't tolerate tantrums from your ego, or anyone else's. Quell ego rants. Ensure respect and dignity for all. Become authentically humble.
Embrace authentic humility as if your life depends on it, which of course it does.
- This essay first appeared as a blog post on emotionalcompetency.blogspot. It has been adapted here with permission of the author. See: http://emotionalcompetency.blogspot.com/2008/03/authentic-humility.html