We think of these words and feel like they were things we used to have or a part of previous time. You know, back in the day when we had humility and respect. But can you give an actual date or era? If you dig into any time frame, you’ll find an example or two (even now an example or two). But mostly, you’ll find huge exceptions to those ideals were also happening in our world history. Could we agree on a specific time frame in our history where there was real humility and respect happening? If you think of the 20’s – well don’t ask women or most immigrants. If you think of the 50’s – well don’t ask women or African Americans. And aren’t we back to that again now? At no point in American History or world history have we not been trampling the life out of a supposed lesser group and insisting on humility and respect. The only time for real humility and respect to ever be known or experienced in our culture is now and moving forward.
The problem is we have consistently, through history, clouded humility and respect with aberrations of role, gender, color, class, political and religious power. Who should be humble and when? Who should be respected? The words became traps of how society thought. How society viewed people. Even the meanings of the words – humility being expressed by or forced upon the lesser or unworthy and respect being given or demanded to the better or powerful. How can we even have a relationship with other humans, true power, or what we see as God when we are ever caught in the dichotomy of these two words.
We know in our core that there is something rich, beautiful and truthful in humility and respect. So, we cling to these words like finding a diamond still trapped in the surrounding mountains and dirt. Humility (defined as unworthiness and low self-regard) and respect (defined as worthy of high regard or esteem) are two ends of a stick that have long been used to beat us into an unequal society. Up to now, in this unbalanced state – we are looking through the dark glass, living in false humility and lacking respect for others and hiding behind it as we weld power. Yet, all knowing somewhere in this clouded rock is a diamond.
Learning to walk as a child shows our need for balance. In some cultures, balance is considered another sense Just like hearing, sight, or taste. For example, the Anlo-Ewe Tribe in Africa. Referenced from the book “Radical Wholeness” by Philip Shepherd. In our society’s misunderstanding of humility and respect, we struggle to walk (to be balanced) because we are spending so much time proving who is better than or less than. We do this without saying it directly, but in how we behave, teach our children and conduct business. But it is our subtle truths behind our actions. These ideals are distorted by society’s unsaid teaching. For years we speak of equal rights while our actions discriminate on gender, race, social class and so on. Humility is forced on the lesser to ensure power. Respect is often really fear of punishment from someone having more power than another.
Buffeted by judgements or enforced right /wrong, good/ bad, black/white, male/female, rich/poor and powerful/weak – all these concepts enforce our separation from each other and our desire to be on the safer side of the stick. We lose our balance and wonder, since there is self and others – well then – are others more important than the self- or is the self – more important than others? We have lost perspective or balance of it all. There is no center in separated halves. What we are left with is false humility and rampant disrespect of ourselves and others.
When there is balance – you are naturally humble and naturally respectful. You are not seeking to be better than or lost in self depreciation. You do not hurt yourself or the other. You are in balance and peace. So how do we get to that equanimity.
We thought we had to beat ourselves up to be humble – to look at our unworthiness, our sin. But that feeds anger and pitting the self against its own being (training a person to dislike themselves). From that comes confusion and a lack of self- esteem or loss of self-respect – which feeds acting out and hate.
Respect is not self-pride or elevation. It is not finding a way you that makes you better than others. It is not a defiant fighting back and nobody’s gonna step on me. It is not being more financially, physically, or socially more powerful. Respect is awareness of another’s right to exist as they are. And your own right to exist as you are too.
Respect and humility are peace or love – centered – balanced. No one more valuable or less valuable, but equally valuable as they are. Equally loved by God and the self. There is no struggle here, but perfect balance.
So how do we achieve this balance? How do we reach humility (without self-loathing) and respect (without attaching it to power)? A well-known verse gives us a path in Mark 12:29-31. The greatest commandment. Jesus first says that, the Lord our God is one, then says to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Then the second commandment is the same as the first – to love thy neighbor as thyself. That there is no other commandment greater than these.
The first command is the truth and the ideal – God is One and love the One. But that is a vast concept. One is not separate, not us versus them, me or you. One is inclusive of everything. Nothing is beyond God. We often fall on our faces as we strive to achieve something that is beyond the understandings of our personality and ego. Love the One – love it all – without limitations. But Jesus gave us a smaller step that we can work with and said that it was basically the same – love your neighbor as thyself. So, before you try eating the whole elephant, try this first bite.
We often want to skip right to loving God, without first learning to love our neighbor, and to do that, we must love ourselves.
I decided to take this first bite, to love myself. Loving yourself will teach you humility and respect. You cannot look at all the parts of your character and ways of being without becoming humble (if you really do it and see all the little places where you want something and how you go about getting it). And we do that because we feel a lack of love somewhere. And if you attempt this without love for yourself – it isn’t going to be pretty and you won’t last long. But if you realize that God wants you to love these areas of yourself and you accept that they are in there and you love you anyway – then – you can respect yourself and not see yourself as less than. So, then I thought – I was ready to love my neighbor.
I spent some time with this concept. You do what you understand to start. I started with even though I am different than my neighbor, and they are different than me – I love them. It wasn’t until I spent time trying to live that aspect that it became clear that was not loving my neighbor as myself. It was a step in a valid direction, and necessary, to be able to see – I was loving my neighbor anyway, but not as myself. And I realized too – that I was loving myself “anyway” – which was not loving myself as completely acceptable.
To love myself – without a clause was next. That it was ok to be me with all the faults. See it is easy to be ok with being perfect – but not with a fault. However, if you really dig into a fault, you will find that it is created from some form of lack of love. So – love it (it is part of the One being you are). And then I could love me as I was. Then when I turned to love my neighbors that way, something amazing happened. I saw them differently. I was not blocked by judgments or “anyway” statements. I could instantly love them and care about their dreams and their hopes and their life. And there was a new balance. Their life and lives (with dreams and sorrows) was not more important than mine – not less or better than mine – but the same. Their very existence and life the same as mine. It is humbling to see another person’s life as equal to your own (no matter their age, or race, or gender, or economics, everyone at whatever stage – equal to your own value). How humbling and yet – how respectful of one another. Then I realized if I looked at them and judged them in any way – I was not able to love them – I would lose that special space. I could either judge them or I could love them. I chose to love them. And that blew my mind some more, as it was so lovely to sit in that love and look at people.
I then spoke to God and I said, “It was nice to love people that way, but I realized I am not as amazing as God and did not love as God loves”. I was humble and respectful of God’s greater abilities. It was a good thing I was laying down when I spoke this to God as God responded. This concept was given: If you can see others as equal to yourself, then you can see how I look at you as equal. And you can only handle that statement if you see that it is not only spoken to just yourself but to all (everyONE). As everyone Is equal in God’s eyes. How humbling and how respectful, as each of those concepts come into balance through love.
Could I love myself enough to accept that, and then be able to love my neighbor that way? It came first as a feeling and then as a statement. I asked to see people as God sees them. I was overwhelmed with looking at people with only love, seeing them more as God sees them. It was mind blowing, everyone I looked at brought me to tears. When God is looking at you – when the presence of God is looking at you – it is only love. And that love is so rich and deep and overpowering – that the statement than ran through my mind after this experience was, “Nothing is wrong in the presence of God.” Now, we can jump up and say that there are bad things happening all the time, there are wrong things that have happened to me and to others. But this is something different – it is saying that the Presence of God and the Presence of love is so powerful – so rich – so deep – so vast – that its very presence wipes out everything. There is only love and nothing but love exists in its presence. The presence of the One wipes out everything else. We don’t always get to feel this because of distortion around humility and respect as concepts. Our devotion to being worthless, that we have been taught keeps us from feeling this complete presence of love. Our less than and greater than unspoken standards disconnect us from feeling the presence of love that is the Lord our God which is ONE. It blocks us from existing in that love with one another. In it – we are in balance and outside of it we are unbalanced. We choke on this a bit, how can I be like Christ – Christ was perfect. I am not perfect. And to continue in this manner, we must keep imbalanced humility and respect and ignore the following verse. John 14:12 – He that believeth in me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. We are so trained that we are unworthy and not like Christ that this verse is impossible. Never mind Jesus said it – it is impossible. But it is not about being good enough, and it is not being disrespectful to attempt it. “Who do you think you are?” We can hear others saying. But this is actually a natural occurrence when humility and respect are in balance. When we see others as equal to ourselves and understand that God or love sees us as equal; when we love ourselves and others in the richness of our human “faulty” expression; when we center in the balancing concepts of humility (the awareness that we are all equal in every aspect) and we appreciate the value of one another even in the chaos of various presentations of humanity (respect) – in that moment we act as One. And in that moment that we love each other equally, the actions that come from that place of being are Christ-like and have the power of love or God. And those actions are the great works. And when those actions are completed – it is done through the balance of humility and respect. Cause no one was at any point greater than another or less than the other. In that moment, we were one and the action was of the One and no power is greater. And that power is not owned or clung too. As it was only possible by the merging of equals into One. And when you are One, there is no ego before it, during it, or after it. There is nothing to be proud of. The ego of you did not do it. Oneness operated through you, there was only mutual participation. So, now is the era of humility and respect, do not look to the past for it is only possible this present moment and forward. There is no ego or self-aggrandizing in realizing we are all the same and equal – that no one life is more precious than another. In fact, it is quite a blow to the ego. But this balances humility and respect and opens the presence of love and its actions. This is the balance needed to walk in humility, respect and power. The greater works that Christ said we would do, are not personal acts for personal gain, they are when we are aware of our equality – when we are aware we are One with each other, and One with the Father, and One with Christ, and in that moment the action or great work that occurs is not yours or mine, it is of oneness as were the acts of Christ. The only impediment to seeing these great works every day is the seeing ourselves as separate from our neighbor or God. When we accept that everyone is absolutely the same in the eyes of God and in our eyes too – That is both humility and respect in balance. You would not harm yourself or others – instead in balanced humility and respect – there is only love and oneness. And there is no other time in history than this present era, this present moment to live in this balance – in perfect balance as ONE.