Humility, as a word and as an ideal, has a very bad time of it in our world. Not only is the idea misunderstood; the word itself is often intensely disliked. Many people haven’t even a nodding acquaintance with humility as a way of life. Much of the everyday talk we hear, and a great deal of what we read, highlights man’s pride in his own achievements.
I agree that outside of the rooms of AA, I don’t hear humility talked about much. I think that being humble is something people look up to in a certain way. When I think of people who are humble, Mr. Rogers comes to mind, and really I don’t know if Fred Rogers was a humble man, though I think he probably was.
I wrote before about being humble, being humbled, and humility. Personally, I’ve had so many years of practice with AA principles that I accept humility as something I will continually strive to increase in my life. It fits with my haphazardly practiced standard religion. I remember that I should not take the best seat in the house, but rather wait until someone in authority asks me to take it. I remember that when the poor woman donated just one coin, she gave more than the rich woman did who gave many many coins. I remember that I should strive to act in a way that, when people see the good works I do, they will praise my higher power, not me.
I am mindful that there is always the danger that, in my humbleness, I am being proud. And I agree that AA is a simple program for complicated people! The verses from Corinthians that I’m still working on learning fit here. If I offer up my body and all my goods so that I may boast, but don’t have love, nothing am I profited.
When I experience problems getting along with a group, I consider my humility in the situation, and if I am being humble enough. I also wonder at times if I’m stepping up enough and being active enough. It’s also important for me to consider humility when I’ve apparently been successful. I’ve talked with others about how important it is and what it says about us that we, for example, are in successfully long term partner relationships, or that we achieve long term sobriety.
Ultimately, all the credit and all the thanks have to go to my higher power, even if that is just a spiritual concept or a human entity like AA. Why am I more able to be successful through my higher power than others? Or, when I’m not successful, does the blame then go to the higher power? Or is it me?
A few things I feel I know for certain regarding this humility. I have been blessed beyond measure and beyond most people who ever lived in terms of material wealth. I have not yet wanted for anything physically and have had my environment as nice and as safe as a person can have it. So all I can do with my intellect and spirit is not hampered by illness or poverty or danger. And that is a gift. I did not earn it, it was freely given to me and not to some others, and I don’t get to know why. I believe, though, from my time in that musty old church, that to whom much has been given, much will be required.