"Humility doesn't shout its characteristics. It is the quiet virtue. We must approach it in reverence. Because it is quiet, we must listen, look, and feel to discern its character," writes Dr. Everett L. Worthington Jr., professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has dedicated his life to the study and teaching of how forgiveness and justice come together. In this enlightening paperback, he presents a thought-provoking and soul-stirring assessment of humility. He has sprinkled the text with quotations on this virtue. Here are a few to keep in mind and close to your heart:
• "I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker."
• "The only wisdom
we can hope to acquire
is the wisdom
Humility is endless."
• "The first test of a truly great man is his humility. By humility I don't mean doubt of power or hesitation in speaking his opinion, but merely an understanding of the relationship of what he can say and what he can do."
• "Of some thoughts one stands perplexed especially at the sight of men's sin and wonders whether one should use force or humble love. Always decide to use humble love. If you resolve on that, once and for all, you may subdue the whole world. Loving humility is marvelously strong, and strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it."
Worthington begins with his own tribute to some "heroes of humility" people who have demonstrated in their everyday lives that love and service count. They are "ambassadors of virtue and character." What do they have in common? They are modest, see the self in true perspective, and pursue purpose and meaning with intensity. Worthington writes: "Part of humility is seeing and honoring something bigger than I am." He goes on to list ways to develop humility, such as nixing narcissism, eliminating entitlement, defeating pride, cultivating an accurate sense of self, and practicing other virtues. In a concluding chapter, Worthington sums up scientific research on humility and the difficulties faced in measuring it. He concludes: "Neither counseling professionals, medical professionals, nor scientists can define universally acceptable steps to humility and happiness. Nor can they show us the skill set that makes up a humble behavioral repertoire." Those interested in nurturing this virtue can turn to a wide range of spiritual teachers, past and present, for guidance, counsel, and wisdom on becoming a humble person.