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Life Arts

The Virtue of Humility

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Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), a British philosopher, once stated, "One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important." Not that ones work is necessary unimportant, but Russell was perhaps referring to the absorption of ones self, time, and energy into ones work, or the inability to put work in perspective with life as a whole. Perhaps he was referring to a self-inflated value of oneself and ones productions. I tend to think the latter.

An individual as such may be "consumed" by his work and its importance to the detriment of his sanity and that of those closely related to him. Now if you are working on developing a vaccine for AIDS or the Fijian mutant strain of flu, one might well take exception temporarily to the inference of Russell; but in general, just how important are we and our "work."Although the greatest virtue is said to be prudence, humility must take a close second. Is that not the real issue here?

It is said that wisdom begins when you realize that you are "nothing," that is, in the grand scheme of things, nothing in this brief wisp of time we call mortality. Realizing this, your intellect opens to all ideas, none of your own being so sacrosanct that others cannot prelude it, the criteria being which one represents the greater good-- the relegation of self-interest to its appropriate backseat to what is the good of all. Aristotle first introduced this concept in the 3rd century BCE, saying, "The good of each must be the good of all." Pertinent to us as Americans, James Madison embraced this idea writing in The Federalist Paper, #11, where he rallied for approval for the Bill Of Rights.

He referred to this concept as the "common good." Humility is a desirable and necessary trait for being considered a "good" person from both a secular and non-secular perspective.

Humbling oneself to God and the principles by which one should live in obedience to Him, represents not only the "ultimate humility," but also the beginning of that new, "good" life that can follow. For then life itself takes on a new purpose, becoming more holy in heart, mind, and deeds, which in turn preordains the perspective that worldly things ought to be taken.

He provides the answer to life, its true purpose, and the solution to death, as He offers life eternal. Hearing and accepting that call, what burdens are lifted from ones shoulders, and, how orderly life becomes in preparation for what is promised. Hope indeed, can then spring eternal.

Retired physician now works with not for profit foundations on behalf of hearing impaired children, prison ministry, and Christian teaching via church.  Author of soon to be published book, (more...)
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The Virtue of Humility


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