Thomas Merton on Humility
Fittingly, in my reading tonight I read through some thoughts from Thomas Merton on humility and pride. This is from his book, The New Man.
In a sense pride is simply a form of supreme and absolute subjectivity. it sees all things from the viewpoint of a limited, individual self that is constituted as the center of the universe… If I am the center of the universe, than everything beings to me. I can claim, as my due, all the good things of the earth. I can rob and cheat and bully other people. I can help my self to anything I like, and no one can resist me. Yet at the same time, all must respect and love me as a benefactor, a sage, a leader, a king. They must let me bullly them and take away all that they have and on top of it all they must bow down, kiss my feet and great me as god.
Humility, therefore, is absolutely necessary if man is to avoid acting like a baby all his life. To grow up means, in fact, to become humble, to throw away the illusion that I am the center of everything and that other people only exist to provide me with comfort and pleasure. Unfortunately pride is so deeply embedded in human society that instead of educating one another for humilty and maturity, we bring eachother up in selfishness and pride. The attitutes that ought to make us mature too oftenonly give us a kind of poise, a kind of verneer, that make our pridde all the more suave and effective. For social life, in the end is too often simply a convenient compromise by which your pride and mine are able to get along together without too much friction.
Phew. Good stuff from Merton.
I can’t get that one sentance out of my head: “Humility, therefore, is absolutely necessary if man is to avoid acting like a baby all his life.”
Pride and humitly are so elusive in my life. Once I think I have a grasp, pride jumps up and bites me right in the you know what.
“God, have mercy on me, the sinner…”