Humility is a virtue as necessary, as it is difficult. Not by chance, it it is still the main condition for every spiritual path. Obviously, it is not “intended” only for the monks, but they have the best conditions for practicing it.
Humility seems to be the most efficient medicine against the pernicious presence of power and aggressiveness, connected to pride and personal ambitions. Today, more and more often, we hear talking about narcissism – an attitude which is worse than typical selfishness – in which the only thing that counts is what valorizes your position. It is, therefore, not strange at all that with such an attitude it is not possible to make the world function without problems: in fact, the others are there merely to be exploited or ignored.
So, what do we need humility for? Is there anyone still capable of understanding and appreciating it? The humble person is perceived as a naive orphan, someone who is not able to organize himself well in the world, a weak person, a loser. You will not see him winning the race for prestige and profit. On the contrary, in case of need, you can take advantage of him. And people do it straight away.
Today it is enough to show a friendly, receptive, and culturally honest attitude, and you immediately lose the best place, the most desired food, the most promising opportunities. In a context where everyone is fighting and taking care only of their own interests, who makes room for the others and does not seek personal profit is doomed to lose.
It takes much inner and spiritual strength to keep a lifestyle marked by humility. In fact, it means to be ready not to be respected, to be ignored, even forgotten: a painful experience because when one has something to offer – a gift or some kind of competence – and one can see how people, who at best are mediocre, do things that we would certainly do better… but no one has asked us to do them. Those who are humble receive no recognition. Quite the opposite, very often we leave room to shameless and arrogant people.
What should be done of humility then? Is it not today merely a way to make room for insolence and impunity of the threatening people? Is it not humbleness that exposes itself to abuse in the first place? Questions that are difficult to answer. Yet, they open a new space for challenge: to live the Gospel every day, concretely and radically. Every negative situation is a unique opportunity to leave the unmistakable traces of Jesus’ presence, meek and humble.
We do not know what happens in the heart of the people who take advantage of us (of our patience, our talents, etc.) and see our unusual reaction. Perhaps someone reflects and does not lose faith in the meaning of life yet? Perhaps we give someone hope? Humility is an insistent indication to the transcendental, supernatural instance – i.e. that of God – and therefore it has to be lived without despairing over its effectiveness.
Translated by Ecaterina Severin