Saturday, 3 April 2021

The Answer?

 This morning I noticed a piece of paper stuck to a lamp post, bearing this simple message, hand-written: 'Humility is the answer.' To which the cynic might respond, 'What's the question?' But if one word, one quality, is to be deemed 'the answer', humility will, I think, serve very well, better than Faith or Hope or even Love. Faith can degenerate into fanaticism, Hope can become blind optimism, and Love – well, all manner of things can go wrong with Love. It is impossible, however, to overdo humility: if you do, it ceases to be humility and becomes something else altogether, as in the 'very 'umble' Uriah Heep.
Humility (usually translated as 'meekness', a word that has unfortunately changed its meaning) is surely central to Jesus's teaching and the example of His life.  From an everyday perspective, humility is an honest assessment of our worth and our place in the scheme of things, a perspective that corrects arrogance, and helps us to realise that we are not the centre of the universe. Marianne Moore recommended as her three cardinal virtues Humility, Concentration (i.e. paying proper attention) and Gusto (i.e. enjoying what is to be enjoyed). Those three together probably are 'the answer', if anything is. And the question is 'What do we most need to live well in the world?' Also, in Miss Moore's view, 'What do we need to write well?'

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