The Strength in Humility

kinnon —  November 13, 2005 — 1 Comment

Ira Williams in his ChangeThis Manifesto, Speak Softly:

Remember, for most of us, humility is equated with weakness. Americans are repelled by weakness of any sort. We crave strength because strength facilitates success and success is believed to be key to our pursuit of happiness.

I submit, however, that it requires tremendous strength and character to place others’ interests before your own.

I believe that by moving our self-orientation to the background, and truly focusing upon enhancing the lives of those around us, we can attain a more balanced perspective of the world while simultaneously finding greater personal fulfillment for ourselves.

Because here’s the secret: In order to be humble, you have to be strong. And you have to be so comfortable with that strength that you don’t have to flaunt it. Moreover, the truly humble know that they have an obligation to reach out and serve those that are weaker than they are.

The best historical example of this juxtaposition of humility and strength is Jesus Christ.

As the Son of God, he clearly had all the power anyone could want. Yet throughout his earthly life, he served others. He ministered to the downtrodden.

He even washed his followers’ feet!

Now, I know I lost some of you there, but I hope you don’t miss the message:
With true power comes an obligation to wield that power with humility and a lack of arrogance.
(Page 3 & 4. Formatting in the original.)

Download the pdf here and read the whole thing. Please.

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

One response to The Strength in Humility

  1. Bill, It is hard to criticize someone who is celebrating humility, but I feel that I must. I agree with Ira Williams in principle and in philosophy. However, I find his analysis of American foreign policy rather simplistic, naïve or merely partisan. I’ve said so at his site – link to During my lifetime, I’ve been both a Republican (for a short time) and a Democrat (much longer), but have been an independent for more that a decade. If we are going to apply the standards of humility to US actions overseas, we need to cast a much broader net, and realize that the hubris that exists at the heart of American politics is no respecter of parties. That said, analysis of American humility or hubris cannot be based on the MSM’s extremely prejudicial reporting of the news or the boilerplate commentary of on-air political pundits. If all we get are body counts, we can believe that all that matters. Or, if all we get is a relentless browbeating about Bush lying, then we never get the whole picture. When Bush ran for election in 2000, he ran on a platform that said the US military is not in the nation building business. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, this is precisely what they have been doing. The Blogosphere continues to do a good job of providing this counter-cultural picture of the war. As far as the response to Hurricane Katrina, federal, state and local authorities, all, have not been forthcoming in taking responsibility for the debacle. I’ve been down there, and the real relief work is being done by anonymous citizens who seek no recognition, but are sacrificing their time and resources to care for people in need. That is the counter-cultural story that our politically dominating media does not provide. My point, Bill, is that if Ira wants people to take his perspective on humility seriously, and I wish they would, then he needs to stand apart from the political rabble that is using the war and the hurricane aftermath for purely political purposes. I believe he is sincere in his criticism of Bush, and that is fine. But to only direct his attention to him, when so many on the other side of the aisle have operated in, in my assessment, in a far more arrogant manner than Bush. If he would look beyond his narrow view, what he would see is the humility of average people who are making sacrifices to care people who have no names, no faces, only an awareness of needs. Ultimately this issue isn’t really about some generalized America, but about the difference between the average citizen’s humility and the hubris of national bureaucracies. Humility isn’t measured by what someone says. It is measured in one’s willingness to sacrifice for others, and seen in the courage it requires to speak when no personal benefit will come from it. I’m waiting to see this character emerge from our political parties and the mainstream media. I’ll write something on this at my blog later. Thanks for pointing me to his essay.


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