We can find solace in recognizing that there is only so much we can control and predict. There is only so much that we can know and fix.
Once again you have written an observation on what sounds like a simple issue but you humanized it, I thank you for this. If more of us looked at others giving daily often in very stressful situations, not looking for attention but still making an impact which is something we can all do, if we keep our eyes open as we live our day
Mr.Rather, I have respected your writings for years, and want to thank you for still making a real difference as you go about life. Quite an example.
It's been my experience that many people misconstrue the concept of humility with the term humiliation, and thereby have a negative conception of what being humble/humility is all about. This is a beautiful essay to show what the true meaning of humility is all about. Thank you so much.
As an expat Brit I have solid memories of the litany of British monarchs quite literally beaten into me while I attended various schools. According to the educators these were but a cat’s whisker from divinity; the British Empire had been omnipresent, the Royal Navy ensured this reality.
In 1966 I made my second and final summer holiday visit to India, where my parents and younger brother had lived for over five years. (I’d been dumped in what was presumed to be a fairly decent boarding school; no sexual predation, just unlimited physical and psychological brutality.)
My dad’s contract had closed out, and wise man that he was he’d scheduled stops in Agra and Delhi as we made our way back to cold, gray England. I first glimpsed the Taj Mahal from the roof of the Hilton, illuminated by the full moon; it shimmered, five miles in the clear distance, and my fifteen year-old jaw dropped. The next morning we visited in the bright light of day.
Bear in mind that I’d already touched both Sphinx and the Giza pyramids; reading about these staggering monuments was one thing, walking up and touching them another. The Taj dwarfed them,.
Imagine being able to actually touch this stones of this insanely beautiful tomb…but that’s what the Taj Mahal was intended to be, a final resting place. It is impressive in scale, even more so when one realizes that’s the basic math tools required to determiner how each stone was cut and placed were abacus and wax tablet…and wonderful minds.
As the monarchs of Europe fought and slaughtered each other, the Taj was being planned, one man’s loving tribute to his favorite wife who had died in childbirth. As that fabled European royalty struggled to maintain its tenuous grip on various peoples, artisans were carving a simple truth inlaid in gold high on the Taj’s eastern wall : “There is none greater than God, and Mohammad is His messenger.”
I stood transfixed by this statement, warmed by a foreign sun, thinking of churches and cathedrals in England. But I was in awe of what it had taken to create this building and its surrounds, just as I had been by the Sphinx and pyramids. We British, who claimed to civilize and educate the world, while demeaning those nations beyond our immediate vision, were the ‘ignorant savages’.
We had created and endured monarchies, emperors, the odd empress, bevies of popes…some some gorgeous buildings, but this bright tomb outshone them all, although it bankrupted its’ creator and turned his sons against him.
It wont be the next mega aircraft carrier that makes me catch my breath, or even Elon’s minions landing on Mars; it will be the humbling moment when I walked up and carefully placed my right hand on the Taj Mahal, at that moment feeling very human and very small.
I think that an awareness of the limitations of one's knowledge is a key ingredient of mental health and an antidote for arrogance.
I especially appreciate your last thoughts on change as an opportunity to build.
The last administration was always in my mind a bull in a china shop source of destruction and mayhem. I nearly despaired at the thought of repairing all it had broken. But just as some areas rebuild after natural disasters, we too can roll up our sleeves and cooperatively set about making something new that can withstand the destructive forces.
Thank you for your steady faith.
Last year my 4th grade teaching team accepted the winds of change and were able teach in innovative, creative, and connected ways. Our kids thrived because we created, together, alongside our kids.
Humility. Try Blackness.
The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
― Isaac Asimov
Hope without action is surrender.
Dan, that was your BEST.. and elegant essay about a first step in Wisdom. I happen to have just written this companion essay this morning. Troy and Me
I’m one of those animal lovers who gets somewhat personal with their pets. I respect them, and enjoy helping them to reach their full potential, whatever that is; even if I don’t understand a lot of it, because it’s not quite possible to put yourself in the shoes of another species. It’s even tougher than when we might try to put ourselves in the shoes of someone from a different culture or ethnicity, in order to interact with them in a brotherly, and respectful manner. When you do that with people ( and yes, animals too ), you learn things from them which often make you a better person, and understand life a little better.
Troy is my pet Cockatiel, now 6 years old. I found him at an independent family owned pet store in Buffalo. He was just old enough to feed himself and be sold. But they had clipped his essential flying feathers. I waited months for them to grow back. And then, I had to be his mommie, and teach him that he could fly, and walk him through his early attempts. So, often he can’t avoid looking to me to take some guiding action in situations where, in the wild he would learn on his own, or from other birds what to do. Still, he is naturally sociable, curious, and praise seeking. The intelligence level of one of these smart parrots has been compared to a human toddler almost 2 years old.
At least once a day, he visits adjacent my foot, and begins babbling in a multi minute monologue, which is at times interactive with me talking with him. His special cockatiel ability, seems to me to be that he learned to talk, by identifying and mimicking the PHONEMES of speaking; same as children do. So he babbles on in phonemes, sometimes including complete words or short phrases he’s learned. For years I’ve wondered if I’d ever have any idea about his motivation and purpose in doing this.
Troy is a spirited creature, with the gift of waking up EVERY day with a positive emotional attitude. And we have developed a morning routine which begins when one of us says, “Hi Troy” and the other responds, “Hi Troy”. Then, he’s ready to have the towel cover taken off his cage ( his ”‘bankie” is the word he understands for it ),. He hopes the next interaction is, “Do you want to visit?” and his affirmative response is physical language, by rocking side to side and biting at a cage bar. He will also say, ”I want to visit, let me out” the same way.
Like a cat, he notices and explores inside and out, any physical change in the apartment. And each day begins with a routine ‘walk’ through his entire ‘territory’ the apartment. He most likes when I accompany him. Just like a 2 year old, he can get unintentionally over tired and grumpy, if not put to bed and ‘tucked in’ at a routine bedtime. But there also have to be ‘late nights’ when he stays up with me.
In addition to routines, he obviously enjoys learning new things, just for the sake of learning. It’s an instinctive, or God given, similarity to humans. I now think his babbling is done every day, in the instinctive positive hope that by doing it, he will reach to the next level of language use. Kind of like a ‘birdie prayer’ that may never be realized, but will continue to be positively hoped for.
This is the kind of blind faith we are being asked to maintain in these troubled and dangerous times for humans.
I choose the moderate view of successes in science. Science as a discipline discovered the flu to begin with a long time ago. Then the respiratory virus of a more serious nature in the 20th Century.
Simply beautiful. Thank you.
Humility . i see it in my sons who are men who have been deployed to Afghanistan three times and are also firefighters. I see how selfless and giving and hopeful they continue to be. I see God rejoicing in thier acts of kindness and compassion and leading by example that love faith humility will set us sll free to love.
I have always thought of humility as a positive human trait. Never as a loss. The more we are humble, the better our world. Hubris, on the other hand, is a problem and always has been. A trait held mostly by men. Humility and compassion will make us strong.
Humility and kindness begets the same…The more that we send forth into the cosmos, the faster things will improve. 💕
Dan Rather has an uncanny ability to hit just the right note at the right time. I so needed to read your ode to humility. Yes, typically the world looks at things like humility or meekness (true meaning= power under control) with disdain--a clear sign of weakness. But as you say, remembering the strength we humans possess in the face of enormous challenges, countered by our helplessness at any given moment is humbling. All this also brings to mind another attribute that seems lacking in our country right now: true courage--not the prideful hubris and bravado that many throw around. But pushing to do what we fear or is difficult when we believe it's right, especially for the greater good. Starting with me, I hope we all flex our courage muscles a bit more.
I love to end my day with your words. I feel strength and hope after a long day of worry and anxiety I worry so about our wonderful country and the future of our children and grandchildren. Your thoughts allow me to stay Steady and keep doing what I can to contribute to humankind.