The Beauty of Humility
Listening to the radio the other day I caught an interview between a reporter and an editor of a French fashion magazine. They were discussing a list, recently compiled by the magazine, indicating countries in the world with the most beautiful people.
The reporter wanted to know first, what were the criteria for getting on the list and second, why wasn’t Canada on it. The editor shared that they looked at three things; physical beauty, style and attitude. She then very succinctly and without apology stated why Canadians failed to make the grade. When it comes to beauty it seems that the average Canadian has a scrunched up face, probably from too many winters of facing into those Arctic low pressure systems. When it comes to style it seems we are afraid to show off our bodies preferring to hide them under layers of sweat pants and hoodies.
These first two I don’t have a problem with. Besides having a whiff of truth about them I also believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if a Parisian pundit doesn’t see the charm in a scrunchy face wrapped in a bunny hug, well so be it. But it was the third criteria that got me thinking.
The fashionista went on to say that, when it comes to attitude, “Canadian people are too humble; they apologize too much… making them seem like the needy boyfriend always seeking approval.”
She does have a point. If a stereotypical Canadian gets knocked over while waking in the street they will usually be the one to apologize for being in the way. But does being humble make one unattractive?
In the letter to the Philippians we hear the injunction, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.” Humility is one of the seven heavenly virtues; an antidote to the deadly sin of pride and, in all fairness, a truly humble person would probably not concern themselves with whether or not they were excluded from a top ten most beautiful list.
That being said one must not mistake true humility for a lack of confidence. People who don’t believe in themselves do come across as less than fetching. We do tend to be attracted to those who are more self-assured. But one can be very confident and still be humble.
Humility does not mean that we think less of ourselves but that we think of ourselves less. We understand that as much as we can be proud of who we are and what we can do, we know that we owe a far greater share of the credit to God for what God has done for us. Physicist Albert Einstein calculated that Ego is inversely proportional to self-knowledge: The more the knowledge of one’s self the less the ego, the less the knowledge the more the ego.
In a community then, humility should be a very attractive virtue because it means that we are more inclined to think of others. The humble person is quick to see situations from multiple perspectives knowing that they do not have a monopoly on wisdom. One who is humble is able to empathize and therefore offer comfort to others who are suffering. Confident in our abilities and in who we are we humbly reach out and share those gifts with others, and there is nothing unattractive about that.