April 9, 2008

Humility vs. Arrogance: A Bit of Self Evaluation

13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

-James 3:13-18

Before I explain the importance of this passage in my discussion, I should explain some background information on the subject. First of all, whether or not you believe in God and the truth of the Bible, I doubt anyone disagrees with this passage. It's pretty blunt, but contains a very powerful truth that I honestly think I needed to hear. The passage speaks of wisdom and humility, explaining what exactly it takes to be wise.

Now for a bit about me. Wisdom is my aspiration. There is honestly little more I seek in life then to be wise, to know things, and to be able to help and give advice to others. When people ask me questions, I absolutely love answering them. And when I don't know, I learn so I can answer them. Its hard to explain, but wisdom is just the source of satisfaction in my life. I want to know everything, I want to experience everything, and I want absolutely everyone to like me. Of course, I understand how impossible is that, but its still a dream of mine.

Just to clarify, I'm not an arrogant person at heart. Whether or not I come off that way I can't say, but I'm just not one to think myself better of others. Its usually pretty opposite, I think myself worse of others. I'm not sure exactly what it is..I suppose I have a competitive spirit but hate competition. I'd rather combine talents then try to use mine to beat out someone else's, because to an extent I fear failure. Everything I do well, I know someone who does it better. And I've always wanted to be the very best at one thing, not so I can brag and flaunt my talent but so I can feel confident in an area and strive to do something productive with that talent. Unfortunately, I can't say thats true, and it may never be true. I'll always know better wakeboarders, better writers, better computer engineers, wiser people.. its just the way life works. I can get over the rest but never being the wisest..thats a tough fate. I write to comfort, to inform, to spark thought, to force people to cast aside short-sighted thoughts and don the mind of a philosopher for even just a few seconds. I'm like an artist, but instead of finding beauty in pictures I paint or music I compose, I find beauty in people's minds I open. When people begin thinking outside of the box and coming up with their own thoughts and ideas independent of anyone else's, I become ecstatic.
Seems like a noble goal, right? I thought so..but this passage made me think about it a bit deeper. Wisdom without humility is nothing..how do I accomplish that? I mean, I try not to come off as arrogant.. I rarely judge people and never think myself better then someone. But can I say my aspiration of wisdom is completely humble? Maybe not.. Its honestly very hard to tell. I write more for others then for myself, is that arrogant? Trying to impress what I know upon others, to feel like I know something, to feel wise. Is that wrong of me? I would love honest answers or opinions to that question.
I mean, lets face the facts? Am I wise? I'd like to think I can give good advice, I'd like to think I can open people's minds a bit. But when it comes down to it, I know nothing. Everything I say or think is based on what I've seen or heard or experienced..I can never see everything. I can never experience everything. My knowledge alone will NEVER be enough, it will never carry itself. Its useless without others, thats the truth of this whole mess. I'm just a dot on a timeline, a single story over the span of 70 or so years that started at a seemingly random time and will end, and I will leave this world once again knowing nothing. Despite the hopelessness, I don't think true wisdom is impossible, its just..tricky. I think part of being truly wise is accepting that you really are nothing, and thats not something I can just decide to do. Its a life long goal, I suppose.
On that note, I'd like to ask for your help. Yes, anyone and everyone who reads this, you can help me. I don't care if I've never met you in my life. I need criticism. I need bluntness, I need people to tell me exactly what they don't like about me, exactly what I've done wrong, exactly what I don't seem to know..anything. Its hard to find people who will be that blunt, but I'm promising right now I will never think negatively of you or think you don't like me (Unless, of course, you actually don't like me.) I want a chance to say sorry for things I've done wrong to people, and I want a chance to fix the things holding me back. This isn't my way of getting ahead of the pack or being better then others, this is my way of exposing myself and making myself vulnerable. I will not defend or justify myself, I want true and sincere honesty. I think I'm finally realizing that being wise isn't about learning and knowing what you are, its about knowing and accepting what you aren't and seeing that potential in others. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to be wise without picking up a trace of arrogance, but what is life without a nigh unreachable goal to strive for? Wish me luck.