Humility and Thanks

From Howard Thurman, Deep Is the Hunger:

“The fact that a man can always be in error with reference to the things that he thinks he understands most clearly is an ever-present reminder of human frailty.  It is a challenge to humility even in the presence of one’s deepest convictions.  The truth is we are never able to get our hands on all the facts in a given situation; some thing that is important always escapes our consideration and may lead us to a false conclusion honestly arrived at….  We are all creatures of limitation and it behooves us to recognize this fact at every point  This does not mean that we are excused for our errors due to a lack of knowledge, experience, or patience.  But it does mean that even when we have done our best thinking, our most honest proving of our own motives, plumbed the depths of our innermost cumulative experience of living, we may arrive at a point less than right.”

So much to unfold there, but what I am drawn to in reading this today is the lesson in humility.  No matter how much I know about “x”, there is something, perhaps some things, that I do not know about “x.”  Or to dredge up a saying, it is not what I know that gets me in trouble so much as what I think I know. 

It is not so much that I need to fix anything.*  In fact, given the above, it seems the first step toward humility is recognizing that I can’t  fix this.  That is, I need to recognize that I am one of Thurman’s “creatures of limitation,” and even my well-intentioned analyses often take me to (Thurman is kind here) “a point less than right.”  But here’s the payoff — once I step out of my solipsistic self I am in a new place and on the verge of recognizing that perhaps someone else has some of the answers I don’t have, and perhaps I have some answers they don’t have.  That is, it becomes easier to see that because no one knows it all, we are all in the same boat, or at least we are all adrift in the same ocean.   Good to know I have company.

*Of course, I would think that.

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