VIRTUES & VICES
PRIDE vs HUMILITY
This is a hard one. Everything seems to be the reverse of popular view.
The great religious leaders and philosophers tell us to divest ourselves of pride, and put on humility.
Jesus said that he was meek, and the meek shall inherit the earth.
And the Psalms tell us again that the meek shall inherit the earth, and Proverbs make it clear that a man's pride will bring him low and cause him destruction.
Humility, by definition is to have low self-esteem, to be in a low political or social class. Self-esteem on the other hand means to be proud, self-confident, even conceited.
Who wants to set a goal for them self, and spend their life striving for the bottom of the pack? To be the one everyone uses as a footstool?
Can you imagine a mother sending her son off to school with these instructions: "Remember now, Johnny, I want you to be humble today and let everyone walk all over you without saying a word. And one day, when you are grown, you will have a fine future living on the streets and picking up cans and bottles for your livelihood."
I don't think so. I think rather that her instructions would be more like: "Johnny, remember, don't take guff from anyone. Stand tall and proud, work hard to be the top of your class so that someday you can be a doctor or judge, maybe even President. Make your father and me proud."
Or, how about a commercial that says: "We guarantee that by using our product you will lose all self-esteem and feel poorly about yourself."
Again, I don't think so.
So, what are we to do? Do we struggle to make these few years on this earth all we can for ourselves? After all, it's the only thing in our field of sight that we have for sure. And even that is only provided to us day by day.
Or do we ignore all advice given by those around us, cast ourselves down, and work for a future life, whether that be a better next life, or a place in Eternity.
If we choose the former, that is a life of Pride, we are guaranteed nothing, but the possibility of a successful life in the eyes of ourselves and others. Happiness is not part of that guarantee, nor is contentment. In fact, since the lives of those who achieve any degree of success on the road to pride is open by the media for all to view, it seems quite apparent that the road is froth with personal failure and misery.
On the other hand, by all appearances, the Humble road is lonesome and miserable, a sad account of a misspent life.
But talk to those who live the humble life; the Mother Teresa's, the Peace Corp volunteers, the Missionaries in poverty-stricken areas. Read about the lives of the Apostles, the early Christian leaders, and religious leaders in other Faiths. Ask the vagabond on the road who travels from place to place with all his possessions on his back if he's happy, if he would trade places with the rich and successful. Many will tell you that they have already been there, and won't go back. Now I'm not referring to those on Skid Row, or holding cardboard signs on street corners, but the travelers. Although, even those with the signs are less likely to give up that life if given the choice. It's very often the life they have chosen for one reason or another.
Decisions, decisions. Life is full of little decisions, but there is none so small, yet so large as this one. It is small if we go with the flow and do what everyone tells us to do, but it's among the largest if we decide to choose what the Ancients tell us to do, that is, ignore this life and strive for the next.