Humility. It’s an interesting word, really. One I believe is underrated. Makes sense, actually, when you consider that it describe something humble. What I truly find interesting, though, is how important it is to being a good man, yet how counter-intuitive it is to the illusion our culture has of manliness. Humility is the condition of being humble. Humble is defined both as, “Not proud or arrogant; modest,” and as, “courteously respectful.” This isn’t what we see often in our culture.
There’s a specific idea of what a man is that I come across often, from my own social circle to media representations. In short, it’s someone who is:
If there is one thing this type of guy is thinking it’s, “Me, me, me.” This guy is capable of achieving success and fame. But will always be the quintessential, “that guy.” The person people gravitate to so they can scavenge off of, but the person few people enjoy being around. This, simply, is not true manliness.
Arrogance skews our perception of ourselves and situations around us. It causes us to put a higher than real value on ourselves and our abilities while forcing us to inherently underestimate and put down those around us. Humility allows us to put value into a purpose beyond ourselves. Being humble means we can value other people in a powerful way. Humility is even viewed as an important leadership trait by the U.S. Air Force
Selfishness is, in a way, a tangible form of arrogance. It gives us a drive to earn more money, to have more things, but it’s for the wrong motives. It causes a hoarding mentality. Men should be driven to earn in order to provide in some way. It yearns in our DNA to provide something to someone. Selfishness does not provide, it keeps. Humility provides time, money, love.
Ignorance isn’t just lack of academic intelligence. It encompasses lack of recognizing other’s values, feeling, needs, and motivations. Ignorance is what gives rise to the “caveman” idea of how men treat women. It stems from believing that you know everything and the only possible way of thought is the one you have. There is no love for dissenting thinkers. Conversely, humility gives us the ability to know we can be wrong. The sight to see there is another way of thought than ours. Awareness of value in our differences.
So how do we begin to incorporate humility in our lives? Begin to give others your first thoughts. We begin to think of ourselves last. This doesn’t mean become a bathmat, because the value in other people is in us, too. We’re simply refusing to see our value as inherently greater. Being humble is a learned, interior trait. We must put forth effort to achieve it.
Let’s take a moment and picture the ideal we’re trying to reach. We’re trying to distance ourselves from arrogance and selfishness, denying some needs in the process, to be humble and better able to empower others. But, here’s a funny thing: In a group of say, ten people acting selfishly each person only has themselves acting in their interests and nine acting against. The group is going to be bitter and chaotic. But, if those ten people act humbly, the situation flips. Suddenly each member has nine people providing for needs. Now imagine if men in our world began to act like this and began investing in those around them. Imagine the turn around we could begin to see in families, schools, and social issues.
So, why don’t we strive to be humble? We don’t have to expend energy declaring how great we are. We spend time showing others how great they are. We don’t hoard things we have no need for. We give to provide for others. Humility isn’t a cure-all for the issues of today, but it’s on the ingredients list.