Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Great Blush Revealed: Adventures in Humility

"Humility" has always been a concept that I have had a hard time grasping. What exactly does it mean? The online dictionary says that it is "the quality or condition of being humble (modest, inferior or respectful)modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance, rank, etc." It goes on to state the synonyms: lowliness, meekness or submissiveness. The antonym is pride.   I can go down the road to humility by being modest, but as a woman growing up in a culture that devalues my gender, I can take humility (by the dictionary's definition) to an extreme. I can think little of myself, because isn't that what the world's religions teach us? And doesn't my culture display women as body parts? (Sorry, just had to get the dig in.) I have come to have a different relationship with the word however. A friend of mine, Fred, always said that humility is teachability. Do I accept constructive criticism? Am I able to make changes in my behavior and admit when I learn I am in the wrong? I am not always wrong, and to be humble I do not have to be submissive. However I need to have a balanced notion of self. I have noticed lately that I tend to blush when community members with a so called "higher rank" than I, approach me. This is not humility. This is an extreme reaction where I do not feel equal. I believe that we are all God's children, and that as a child of God I stand on the same ground as my fellow human. (I believe that animals are equal as well, but I will save that argument for a different day.) I am not better than or less than anyone. Just because I have a "better" job, "better" rank in society, or I make more money, have a greater education...just because my hair is blond or my feet are a size 9-1/2 or eat only yogurt for breakfast...these exterior trappings do not make me a superior human being. The opposite is also true. I am not inferior because I make minimum wage and drive a foreign car. Today I have added a prayer to my morning routine. I have asked God to help me to be right-sized, to remain teachable. I don't have to kiss your feet, or expect you to kiss mine (they get kind of smelly, especially after a run.) That for me is my entry into a humble life. The Budoshin Jujitsu Philosophy states that humility is: "your ability to be humble while maintaining your integrity. You do not need to be boastful or tell people how wonderful you are or how much you know or what you can do. Although you may be quite knowledgeable or competent, it is for others to discover through your behavior and your actions. It is your ability to sincerely apologize when you have erred and help others who are in need without expecting thanks or compensation. Humility is based upon your sense of integrity and respect for yourself and others." (