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Humility may be the most misunderstood of the virtues, but it remains one of the most important. Humility is important because it is needed to love God and other human beings. Since we cannot find true happiness without loving God and neighbor, we cannot find true happiness without humility.
But what exactly is humility? The humble person is not the one who proclaims, “I’m nothing but a worthless worm. I’m no more important than dirt.” Indeed, such words sometimes aim at soliciting complements and the favorable opinions of others. Ostentatious displays of “humility” reveal pride. As C.S. Lewis said, “A man is never so proud as when striking an attitude of humility.”
Humility - Word - Latin - Humus - People
What then is true humility? The word comes from the Latin “humus,” which means “ground.” Humble people are grounded people who know and live in accordance with reality. They know they are not angels; they know they are not worms. Humble people are down-to-earth and realistic about themselves. As my philosophy colleague Jason Baehr puts it, “Humility is the virtue that helps us remain attentive to and properly responsive to or accepting of our limitations.”
Like other virtues, humility is a golden mean between the extremes of pride and self-loathing. Humility is the mean between excessive self-love (I’m a perfect angel) and defective self-love (I’m a devilish worm). As the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjolk put it, “Humility is just as much the opposite of self-abasement as it is of self-exaltation. To be humble is not to make comparisons. Secure in its reality, the self is neither better nor worse, bigger nor smaller, than anything else in the universe.”
Men - Women - Limitations - Importance - Winston
Humble men and women recognize and accept their limitations rather than holding themselves in exaggerated importance. Winston Churchill noted, “When you’re 20 you care what everyone thinks, when...
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