I had a phone conversation last night…one of those rambling phone conversations – the kind where topics just kind of flow into one another and digressions turn into discussions without warning. So, on one of these digressional tangents we somehow started talking about his rigorous high school education at an all-boys Catholic school. Of course we chortled at the obligatory Catholic jokes, but talked somewhat seriously about his experiences with the intense academic demands and the high character expectations. We talked about how the students were taught the difference between arrogance and confidence.
Confidence is knowing you have the ability.
Arrogance is telling everyone around you that you have the ability.
Confidence is believing in yourself.
Arrogance is believing you are superior to others.
We talked about how the school instilled a sense of humility; teaching the young men to assume abilities were to be found in others as well. Have I mentioned how I think humility is one of the most attractive qualities a person can have?
A lack of false pride. A humble opinion of one’s own importance.
I was actually kind of surprised to hear that a private school with a religious foundation (and a Catholic one at that! hee) would hammer home those kinds of lessons in character development in this day and age. Honestly, I think humility is a character trait of a bygone era, sadly. And when I say humility, I don’t mean meekness, or weakness, or a lack of self-confidence – which is sometimes the bad rap humility gets. It’s a quality of being unpretentious; of being aware of the potential in others. Humility is accepting that one does not always know best, is not always in the right, and is willing to make adjustments and re-adjustments throughout one’s life. Humility is having an open mind.
Which is why I was surprised that this idea of humility and the differences between arrogance and confidence were extolled at a religious institution. In my experience, the vast majority of people who are really into the religion thing, behave in just the opposite way. That sense of arrogance, of knowing without a doubt that they are right and believing fervently that their way of thinking/living/behaving is superior seems to permeate religious communities. Calm down. Before you get all huffy: this is NOT true of all religious people I have met…especially when you get to interact with them on more of an individual basis.
And here’s the thing – I don’t begrudge anyone their beliefs. It’s that whole open mind thing. However, religion, in my opinion (and my opinion only), is a very personal thing. And I actually genuinely admire those with strong faiths. It’s when those same people put those beliefs on display for the benefit of their audience to let everyone know just how fervent their beliefs really are. And instead of coming across as humility, that attention-seeking display glows with an arrogant smugness, which just drives me crazy.
So last night, I had this dream. Well, a nightmare really, but it didn’t involve being lost as most of my nightmares do. Instead, this nightmare involved my sister, and no she wasn’t stabbing anyone. Even worse than stabbing, she had somehow converted into a self-righteous bible thumper! If you know my sister, you are probably laughing hysterically right now at this absurd idea, but trust me, the dream was NOT funny at all! I was nearly in tears trying to talk to her about it and so depressed that she was suddenly judging others and being arrogant in her new-found beliefs (I never did find out how her transformation happened in the first place). It was disjointed, as dreams so often are, and when I woke up I had this strong urge to call her to make sure she hadn’t really lost her humility. Yeah, it was a scary-ass dream!