Kirsten my "waiter" son.

Sunday, July 10, 2011



A mighty oak tree and a slender reed were faced once with a terrible storm. The oak tree stood aloft in all its splendour and tried to withstand the buffets of the strong wind but, alas, it could not do so and fell to the ground with a heavy thud. The slender reed, on the other hand, did not even bother to fight the strong wind. It meekly bent low and was thus able to survive the furious onslaught of a raging storm. A great lesson in humility!

All of us have had the occasion of meeting truly great people who are so simple and down to earth that we are instantly attracted to them. On the other hand, we have also had the misfortune of meeting proud people, singing their own praises, whom we simply cannot stand and would like to avoid at all costs. Sometimes, we also encounter people who pretend to be humble in order to attract attention and earn the praises of people.

The yellowing COD that sits on my desk informs me that to be ‘humble’ is to “have or show low estimate of one’s own importance” Another word used is ‘meek’ which translates as “piously submissive”. A phrase that came to mind when I read this meaning was ‘to turn the other cheek’ and a person who practised this to the hilt was our beloved Bapu, Mahatma Gandhi. He said of the British, “I want to see them off as friends.” Another famous personality that stands out as a shining example of humility is Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who once said, “If we were humble, nothing would change us – neither praise nor discouragement. If someone were to criticize us, we would not feel discouraged. If someone were to praise us, we also would not feel proud.” Among a few humble people I have had the privilege to meet, Fr. Amandio Valladares, Episcopal Vicar of North Goa Deanery, is my personal favourite. Known for his immense patience, soft-spoken nature and ability to get his message across without raising his voice, he has carved his name on the hearts of the people of the parishes he has served and is still serving.

In today’s world, to be submissive is considered as a sign of weakness. The world says that we must fight for our rights with the venom of a viper. Yet, we are appreciative when someone shows restraint when provoked. In spite of being in the right, a humble person holds his temper and reasons with the offender, winning him over with his gentle attitude and maintains peace with the person rather than insist on justice at all costs. Ultimately, the offender realises his mistake, there is a reconciliation or resolution and his enemy becomes his friend. To cite an example, sometime ago, I read an article in the Herald. on Swraj Paul, who in spite of being humiliated by the CEO of a British Company, kept him on after he acquired the company, with the admonition not to do to anyone else what he had done to him.

Our talents, abilities and the praise we get for them sometimes makes us proud. We take full credit for all we achieve, not realising that no one can achieve anything on his own. First of all, we need the blessing of God for success. Then we need to acknowledge the contribution of our parents in giving us the opportunities to reach this level of success in life. When we are given places of power, we think that we have a right to the best of things. We become proud and pushy in our race for prestige and popularity. We ignore or abuse those who are working for us and make them suffer our insults and harassment. We forget that they too have an important part to play in our success. I was touched to read in the news sometime ago that the famous designer Wendell Rodricks felicitated his employees with substantial accolades, trophies and cash gifts. Aamir Khan also wins hearts by his love for those working for him, taking care of the smallest details to make them feel special. When such well-known personalities set a good example of humility, we feel like following in their footsteps, do we not?

In a nutshell, then, a truly great person is one who is truly humble. Let us all strive hard for this rare gem, seeking it above all other virtues. For when we possess true humility, we can weather any storm. When things do not go our way, we can bend low and say, “Patience! The tide will surely turn one day.”

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