Fourth Week in September
Our humanness is complex. We can be so happy and so sad. We can be so strong and then so weak. We can feel so much pride for our abilities and then such shame for our capabilities. Because we experience our humanness so distinctly these experiences seem so unique to us. But because every human experiences them, it transforms the experience into something transcendent, beyond the limits of experience.
What humility prevents in us is the belief, “I am different.” We all think we are different, and in certain moments within certain contexts, we are right. To foster a belief that we are fundamentally different is to foster an illusion that inevitably will be cut through by humiliation. Humility allows us to acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses, triumphs and struggles with proper perspective. It allows us to say, “what is happening to me now is my experience and it matters to me, but it could happen to anyone at any time.” Humiliation seems to happen to us when we forget to practice humility; it is surprising and unwelcome because it happens at a time when we are caught up believing that we are different.
I may think nobody feels the way I feel. I may think nobody has ever been in the situation I’m in. I may think everyone else has got it all wrong and I’m the only one who’s got it right. Those are natural thoughts and feelings, but they’re inaccurate. Instead of letting these thoughts and feelings settle into beliefs about our singularity and differentness, look for connection with others. Talk to someone, or read a book, watch a movie, or listen to a record and let popular culture demonstrate that the human race has been where you are; you are in the company of humanity.
Practicing humility allows us to acknowledge what sets us apart for now, and it allows us to understand we are not alone in this experience. Everyone is set apart at some time.