Humility has always been a corner stone of my identity, or better stated, my philosophy on life. The neoliberal era has brought with it a level of ego and narcissism never seen before. Our whole economy is built on it; consumerism in an effort self-actualize (and in the dumbest ways possible).
On an individual level, I’ve often failed to stay humble. It’s easy in the everyday, it really is my nature. I’m not one to be competitive or jealous and I live for being able to help people. Nothing feels like a job well done like knowing you made things easier for someone else, however that may have taken place. I get a small high just giving someone directions! Then again, being identified as nice and unselfish does sort of feed the ego, but I still think it’s related to being humble. The traits seem to go hand-in-hand.
I fail at humility when I feel like I’m being attacked. For example, I can get a little jealous with a romantic partner (just a tad, though it was more in my younger years) but I have no such inclinations with anyone else. Having said that, when people get jealous of me, over and over again, or when people start being competitive with me, I hate it but I get the urge to react in a similar way. I can let it go a time or two but I lose that sense of humility when it happens over and over again. I start feeling like I’m being taken advantage of and that all my striving for harmony was just a big joke.
It takes a strong person to stay humble in such situations and sadly I have not always been up to the task. At least I’m humble enough, and confident enough, to admit that. The worst part for me is that because being humble is one of the ways I identify myself, I lose my very sense of self when I lose my humility and begin to fight with someone.
I’m too smart, too wise, to be as judgemental as I’ve been. But it hurt so much to be judged in so many different ways by people who just completely dehumanized me. Still, I wish I had been a stronger person and stuck with the instinct to stay humble.
On a macro level I think this applies as well. I’ve often said, being of an immigrant community and living in Quebec (the French part of Canada), that it’s when cultures feel attacked that they become more fundamentalist and conservative. When people feel like their way of life is threatened, its hard to stay humble and the instinct is to fight back and protect what’s theirs. That’s why immigrants tend to hold on to their culture for dear life, while the culture of their country of origin changes with time (often leaving the immigrant without a real home).
I just think it’s a good thing to keep in mind when we argue. If you’re going to degrade someone, no matter how seemingly idiotic their argument might be, you’re asking for trouble. However stupid one’s thoughts might be, those feelings are real and they’re coming from somewhere legitimate. It’s worth remembering that.