Recently, I had the rare (really rare) opportunity to interview Humility. Usually working in the background, and often misunderstood as weak or failing to thrive, Humility, IMHO, is a hero in the development of wisdom and understanding.
Me: Humility, what a rare privilege it is to converse with you today! You aren’t often in the public eye.
Humility: Yes, that’s true. I don’t get out much.
M: Do you think that contributes to the many common misunderstandings that you are weak, like the “Casper Milktoasts” we despise?
H: It might. Not that it bothers me.
M: In some ways, you seem to be all around us. Look at the people cleaning floors, emptying trash, begging on the corner…
H: Those people aren’t necessarily me. Humility is not doing a thankless task or being “lowly;” it is willingness to be quiet and learn from any task, no matter how menial. If we think we have nothing to learn about any activity, we don’t know it at all.
M: What do you think is the major disconnect for people, in terms of understanding the value of Humility?
H: The major disconnect? That’s easy. It’s Ego. Ego and I do not live well together.
M: How do you mean?
H: Ego and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Ego gets off discrediting what I offer. Ego says I have no backbone and that we don’t need to listen to the situation, as I suggest. Ego already has the answers.
M: What is it you offer? I am not sure I am clear about that.
H: I have no interest in one-up-manship. My approach is to listen to every situation to hear what I can and then learn from it. I want to grow, understand and love. That only comes from listening to the entire situation, not just the surface issues that seem so alarming, charming or disarming.
M: Doesn’t this make you, Humility, or anyone that embraces your approach, easy victims of others?
H: No. To the contrary. The victims are those that don’t know what they are doing; they are just reacting or creating plans based on old information.
M: That is interesting.
H: Thanks. But to me, it’s the most rewarding approach as well. I may be a silent partner, but my experience proves that it gives the best results. By being readily willing to listen and learn, more opportunities arise to understand, have hope, get past ego barriers to love…and more.
M: I get it. You hesitate to say what that “more” is because you are not ready to brag or call attention to yourself.
H: That could be. I’m really not trying to convince anyone. You see, Humility as a concept is weak and ineffectual. Humility must be practiced, put in action, committed to, and proved by experience.
M: If you were to offer our readers and listeners a hint about taking steps toward what you are talking about, what would that be in 5 words or less?
H: Listen to the tiny voice.
M: What tiny voice?
H (Very quietly spoken): The one that leads you to truth.
M: I have to confess, I am not sure what you mean.
H (Quietly spoken): Perhaps Ego is talking too loud for you to hear the truth.
M: So, what you are after is the Truth? What is the Truth?
H: I can’t speak for you. What do you think it is?
M: I am not sure about you, Humility!
H: That’s okay.
M: I mean, why should I wait and listen?
H: I didn’t say you “should.” I think you heard Ego say that word.
M: Okay. Let me take this approach. Does the Truth really matter? Isn’t it all shifting and relative?
H: “Does the Truth really matter?” That would be up to you to decide.
M: You are getting under my skin, Humility!
H: Okay. So this is a perfect opportunity to learn something. What about learning and listening to whatever situation you find yourself in is making your skin crawl? Are you unable to hear another opinion if it doesn’t fit in your established ideas? Does listening to the tiny voice make you feel impotent? Isn’t that your Ego making you a victim of the situation? Quiet your Ego. Can you do that?
M: I can try.
H: Tell your Ego it needs to take a well-deserved break.
H: Now, tell me about a time, a few years back, when you were frustrated.
M: My wife wasn’t listening to me.
H: Okay. That’s good. Was she entirely wrong?
H: And how long did it take for you to realize that she had a point?
H: In the meantime, you held it against her. Right?
H: If you had been willing to listen to her and her situation at the time of the blow-up, do you think it would have taken you months to resolve the problem?
M: You have a point.
H: So, in this situation, you learned you’d been a heel. You held a grudge that affected your health, your work, your relationships… Did you realize that Humility would have changed it?
M: No. That’s the honest truth.
H: Pardon me, but that means you are still a heel.
M: You’re right.
H: That’s the first step toward Humility. You have admitted you were wrong. Now commit to it. Not to being wrong, but to listening, understanding and loving. It’s not all about your Ego.
M: Humility, thank you.
H: Yes, Gratitude is another joy of Humility. Go enjoy it!
M: There it is: the heroism of Humility. It’s true. Ego may get you some short term benefits but Humility is the stroke of finesse that gets you to the truth. It’s not easy to learn from something so unexpected or small; it just takes courage to choose Humility. Thank you, readers and listeners. Please take a hint from my new friend, Humility, and give that little voice a chance to teach you more than Ego can. I think its part of living life fully! (Off mike) You know, I do feel better! How about that? No, Ego. I don’t need you back right now. (Fade out)
This is dedicated to my father, E. Ted Miller. We kids often joked about his flabbergasting humility, so misplaced in the world of egos. But his humility was solid and a great example to us. I honor him again today with this dedication.