Day 358 Question 358:
Is it possible for humanity to learn humility?
My roommate and I have these nights where we go around and around about all kinds of different topics. We are two people of different ages from different worlds but our conversation seems to flow with ease. There is a lot we agree on but a lot we don’t agree on….but that never seems to cause conflict. I told her that I wish schools would implement the teaching of compassion and empathy more in schools. I told her that some people may think that they are already teaching those things but it needs to start with the basics. We can throw the word compassion around until we are blue in the face but until we define it, our children are going to wander aimlessly. I believe the same goes for humility. I, at 34 years of age, know what humility is but I just went to dictionary.com to make sure I really did. I find no harm in going back to the basics when it is needed. The information will always be there but sometimes we need a refresher….sometimes we need a reminder.
When you practice humility you see so much of the world outside of yourself. You portray a sense of humbleness to those around you. You may be aware of your successes and your achievements but you prefer not to be known for those things and you don’t want to show those things off. I am the type of person that can joke about how great I think I am but when an honest to goodness compliment is thrown my way I am usually unsure of how to handle it. I thank the person and immediately try to move onto something else. I do good for others not for recognition but because I think it is the right thing to do. I think it will not only help them but it will also help me….it will continue to be part of my journey. I am proud of who I am and I am proud of my achievements and my accomplishments but I would never be ok with bragging about those things. My mother has always been the person in my life that I have looked to (without her even knowing sometime)….the person that I knew would mold me and there was no one more humble than her. I am her.
I look at where society has been, where it is and the possibility of where it is going and I do have some fears. I think it is ok to look out for #1 but it is never ok to forget about #2 #3 #4 and so on and so forth. Life is this great balancing act and when you look out for others you will reap the rewards….you will feel the happiness that everyone well deserves. From my perspective we have turned into a “Me First” society. We want to boast our achievements and we fight for the spotlight….just look at the anchors bullying each other on all of the different news channels. It is ok to want to have your voice heard but it is important to do it in a way that proves you aren’t doing it only for your personal satisfaction. The goal should always be to strive for the betterment of the whole not just the individuals. I don’t know if we, as a society, are able to learn that or whether we have sunk too far.
I have to share something that I just read that brought me to tears and (in my opinion) is a beautiful model of humility. This is a blog piece written by a woman named Michelle Marchildon.
I Will Not Look the Other Way.
So here’s an interesting thing you may not have known about the young woman who was brutally raped by six men on a bus in India last month:
She was left naked and bleeding on the street, after her assailants rammed an iron pole inside her, which damaged nearly every major internal organ between her pelvis and her throat and caused her eventual death.
The passersby just stared. Nobody helped. Not. One. Person.
Even the police did not offer her and her male friend clothes, and it took them two hours to get help. What were the police doing? Having a smoke?
I may have an opportunity to go to India this year. For a yoga teacher and student of more than 15 years as well as the author of yoga books, this could be a great thing. India to a yoga teacher is like Jerusalem to a Jew; it is the spiritual motherland. Except that this motherland has a sick secret.
Women are raped. A lot.
While only 15,000 rapes were reported in 2011, there are hundreds of thousands more committed routinely against women who do not report these crimes, because to do so would ruin their families.
While rape may ruin a woman’s life, India has a culture where to report it and bring it into the light of justice would cause their family even more harm. They would lose their reputation, their jobs and their friends. They would be outcasts and have to leave the country. The stigma would even follow them to Indian communities in other countries.
It is a stain that cannot be washed away. Ever.
If there is any way to create change, it is economically.
Years ago, South Africa had no incentive whatsoever to deal with the effects of apartheid until the world shined a bright light on it and embargoed trade. Angola and Sierra Leone used Conflict Diamonds to feed their war, those mined by enslaved children as young as eight years old. Now, the largest diamond dealers are careful to trace their product and I can buy jewelry that is not conflict-produced.
If change is going to happen, then it will be started by the outraged world at large; the problem of rape, caste and stigma is too interwoven with the culture for the country to fix it from within.
The solution has to come from without. And that begins with us, the yoga community.
Yogis spend much more time worrying whether their produce is organic than they do that the women of India are safe. We have yogathons for the children of Cambodia and the starving in Africa and the gorillas threatened by the production of palm oil, which are all very good causes. But never, not once, have I been asked to raise money for the brutalized women of India.
Because, according to authorities, they do not exist…until they die in a Singapore hospital.
I will not let this young girl’s death go unnoticed.
I will not be like the passersby that evening in India who let her bleed out on the street like a feral dog.
I will stand with her father, who against all traditions in India demanded yesterday that his daughter be named publicly so that her death has meaning.
If I go to the motherland this year, this ‘mother’ will not go quietly; I will bring with me the outrage of millions of women everywhere.
I will shine a light on this disgrace at every touristy temple.
I won’t be wearing saris, with a dot on my forehead.
I will wear this woman’s name emblazoned on a shirt and stand with her until change, real change happens.
I will not look the other way.
I continually go back to speaking about educating children because that is where we need to start. We need to stop treating our children like babies and start teaching them compassion and humility in the first moments that they can hear and talk. Children are like sponges and even before they are able to form words they are absorbing and understanding our words. We need to start teaching them about modesty and humility from the time they are born and never stop….not even into their adult years. The only way we will ever have success in compassion, empathy and humility becoming a norm is by making it a revolution…..teaching it and modeling it and never stopping or giving up!!!! We need to teach our kids that they are special and are wonderful and they deserve greatness but we must be honest in telling them that greatness will not always come…we need to show them that some people never experience greatness. People will never truly understand what humility is until they are exposed to people with absolutely nothing….and those people are STILL putting others before themselves. The woman who wrote the article above is willing to risk her own life for the sake of peace. She is not looking for a pat on the back….she wants the violence toward women to just stop. She wants these men to learn that there is nothing right about treating women in such a horrific manner. Like anything else, humility is a very simple thing….it is something each and every one of us is capable of….but it takes work….work that will never end. Until we become a society willing to do this never-ending work we will never see change.