May 28, 2013

This post first appeared in 2007 on my original Steve’s Not Nice blog on Blogger as part of a series on character. Now that I have integrated my blogs into one site here at Blazing Core, I am posting the series here.

It’s taken me a long time to get this post written. First, it’s a stretch for someone like me to talk about humility. Second, I like to use a story as an example of the need for these qualities of character. In this case, I have way too many examples of my shortcomings!

When the road is open in front of me and a car waits until I get close before pulling out right in front of me, going about half the speed limit, I don’t see a valuable human being. I see a moron!

When I sit on a committee meeting—any committee, any topic—and the discussion collapses to the details of decorations or which font to put on a report or letter, my connectedness to humankind vanishes.

When I hear intense political arguments that turn into name-calling matches—where one side says any woman who wants to abort her baby is evil, and the other side says anyone who would stop a woman from her right to control her own body is evil—I don’t WANT to be connected to such hateful people.

When I go to the newly constructed “downtown” part of our formerly rural town which is trying to grow into an exclusive suburban community, and see people on cell phones hardly slowing at stop signs and not even looking as they roll right through, oblivious to the people around them slamming on breaks and jumping out of the way… well, I think you get the picture. Self-absorbed arrogance and false superiority really chap my @$$ (hide).

I mean, for someone to think he (or a lot of times she in our upscale little suburb) is superior to others because of the town he lives in is childish nonsense. To think she is better than all the other people who LIVE IN THAT SAME SNOBBY SUBURB is outrageous! They ALL drive cars that cost more than my first house! I don’t have the capacity to see the common humanity of people who act like that when I’m in the middle of the experience. Even with time and distance it’s hard to find compassion and empathy for such a person.

My grandmother was fond of saying, “People are just no damned good.” I thought for a long time that she was very jaded and very negative in her outlook. As I got older, I even thought maybe it was just her way of expressing the Presbyterian theological position of the total depravity of man—corruption is complete and taints every corner of the flesh and soul.

In spite of her criticisms of other people and her sharp-witted quips to her family, she was very loving and caring. I finally realized that people probably disappointed her a lot. But in order to be disappointed so often, she had to have some level of belief in the ability of people to do good and some hope that she would see it. Maybe she was an optimist after all! I want to see the valuable person hidden inside a lot of people, but sometimes it’s just too hard.

Number 1 on Kent Keith’s Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership is:

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered; love them anyway.

I guess that especially applies to annoying, egotistical, colonialist, snobby #($@&#&%@s!

Humility is an acceptance that I am human, like all other people, with flaws and shortcoming. It is rooted in the belief in the dignity, or inherent worth, of all human beings. For me this derives from my belief that mankind is created in the Imago Dei, the image of God. Humility is the path to compassion and accepting the shortcomings of others. It also allows me to see that the poor have as much dignity as the wealthy, that the frail have as much dignity as the strong, and that the vulnerable have as much dignity as the powerful. Humility reminds me that the person cleaning the restroom is as worthy as the person who can change my life by approving my contract.


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