The degradation of love and the fallacy of reason.
It seems appropriate, from the
preceding chapter, to now discuss humility.
I was in a church group meeting
some years ago and I made the statement, ‘When I get to heaven…’
to which someone responded, ‘that’s a very arrogant assumption’.
Let me just clarify my statement in the light of that response, I was
not making an assumption. From my perspective, and faith, I was making a
statement of fact.
There are some social
conventions around self-opinion and self worth that are invidious and
disempowering. Humility falls under this yoke. There is a tendency to
view humility as something that can be ascribed to an individual by
others but it is not considered acceptable to call oneself humble.
In addressing our essential
humanity and in saying we are not defined by what we do, but who we are,
then it needs to be possible to know ones self. In order to function as
a person in life, I need to be able to maintain a reasonable and
rational internal assessment of who I am. That assessment of myself will
inform my actions and how I express myself to others. Without such an
essential knowledge of who I am, everything I do will be suspect and
subject to the assessment of others as to my worth and intention. Much
distress in society today is experienced precisely for that reason.
Clearly, opinions will differ amongst others regarding my motives and
intentions and indeed my value as a human being.
In learning to know myself I
must consider all of myself, my strengths and weaknesses, my skills and
failings, my morality and immorality, and so on. In so doing I find that
I am, in fact, a mish-mash of all that is noble and ignoble in varying
degrees. I am selfish, self centred, sensitive and aware, I lie at times
to save myself embarrassment, I am passionate and caring, I have my
bitterness’s and jealousies and petty rages. In fact I have some
measure of all that is good and all that is bad in human kind. I have
done things in life that I am proud of and other things that I am deeply
To come to an understanding of
myself, to acknowledge all that goes to make up the person I am,
requires a large helping of humility. It is much easier to blow my own
trumpet about what a fine human being I am, than to hold my hands up to
my weaknesses, but until I am able to acknowledge and accept my
weaknesses in humility, without self-castigation or swingeing judgement
and shame, I am a very incomplete human being.
We are wholesome and healthy
human beings only in so much as we know ourselves. The monk who carried
the woman across the puddle could only have found liberation from his
sexuality by acknowledging it, not by denying it. Had he merely observed
the vow of celibacy as a rule and not embraced wholesomely both his
desire to be a monk and his own sexual needs, then he too would have
found himself still carrying the woman many long and burdensome miles
down the road. He overcame his sexuality by a humble acknowledgement of
it. Denying his sexuality would have merely meant he was obeying the
form, but never being, a monk.
If I embrace the fundamental
tenets of Christianity, to the fullest extent of my understanding and
faith, then it is entirely reasonable to state that I am indeed going to
heaven. Whether the person next to me believes that, for them or for me,
is entirely irrelevant.
Humility is not about being self
effacing or considerate or the servant or slave of all; it is in fact a
powerful, indeed ferocious, and often painful life skill towards
understanding and knowledge, ethics and morality.