As Unitarian Universalists, we have a complicated relationship with humility because of our religious roots.
Freedom? We love it!
Individualism? Heck yes!
Reason? Who would want to live without it?!
We needed freedom, tolerance, reason and individualism to get where we are today. Leaders like Ralph Waldo Emerson led us in that direction.
But as Unitarian Universalists, we also know that we need a healthy dose of humility to connect with folks who are oppressed.
We are humble when we tell others that truth is ever unfolding and there’s not just one way of knowing it. Unitarian Universalist minister, Rev. Barbara Wells ten Hove learned about humility from her father: “To be humble, he told me, was to remain teachable. Whenever we think we know it all, real humility reminds us to stay open and willing to learn. The magic words, ‘I don't know,’ are at the essence of both awe and humility.”
We develop humility when we contemplate our smallness in relation to the universe. If you have a chance, watch this video by Carl Sagan: Pale Blue Dot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p86BPM1GV8M
This kind of humility is at the heart of our faith. Rev. Wells ten Hove goes on: “When we approach the universe with awe, while our first response can and will likely be ‘Wow!’ perhaps our second response should be ‘I don't know!’
Rev. Scott Tayler from the UUA suggests these “homework” assignments for us. Identify one way this month to be “uniquely humble.” The options are endless: Spend two hours one evening looking up at the stars and contemplate how small--and how lucky--you are; Rather than giving your coworkers advice, humbly ask your coworkers for advice, for a change; Take a risk and humbly ask someone for help or tell them you’re hurting; Send a thank you card to humbly acknowledge a person who helped you get where you are; Anonymously do something nice for someone as a way of humbly not taking credit; Maybe even stand up for yourself as a way of showing you know the difference between humility and humiliation.
The goal is to think more deeply about how humility shows up in your life--and also how humility needs to show up in your life.
I’ll look forward to exploring these concepts and practices with you during the month of July!