Be Humble In Greatness

“Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh, and the greatness which does not bow down before children.” ~ Khalil Gibran, Mirrors of the Soul … 

I find a truth in Khalil’s words that resonate in my soul, for acumen, reasoning, and nobility are nothing if they are not the very essence of our being–if we cannot empathize with it, feel it and understand it, or respect it in humility and reverence. In truth, wisdom, philosophy, and greatness can enrich our lives and the world around us in truly amazing ways, but it must be practical and take into account humanity and the needs of all people if it is to be so–for once we divorce them from emotions and compassion, they become worthless and void of substance.

“Wisdom which does not cry” might come in the form of us responding harshly or indifferently to hearing about a friend that suffered a great loss in their family. Maybe we tell them that they are strong enough to get by on their own, or that they are better off now as a result. And perhaps this is true, but such wisdom lacks true empathy, compassion, and concern, for it seeks only to assert itself and does not take into account the emotional needs of the individual at this juncture in their life.

And “philosophy which does not laugh” might come in the form of us taking life too seriously, of us lacking emotion and a true connection with the world around us. With the endless amounts of information floating around, it is easy for us to learn and understand new concepts, theories, and ideas, but it is also easy for us to separate them from our humanity and forget that we are still spiritual beings at heart. And what good are philosophy and reasoning if it does not help others? The best doctors are those who understand what their patients are going through. The best teachers are those who see and feel the needs of their students. And the best counselors are those who know the struggles of their clients.

And what about “the greatness which does not bow down before children?” Greatness is something to aspire to, but such traits and pursuits need to serve our fellow humans–especially the least and most vulnerable among us–or they can easily become warped into selfish endeavors that consume and take but give nothing in return. To be great is a noble calling, but we must seek to be truly humble in our greatness, to realize that there are greater things in the world than our own actions and achievements and that everything we do, we do to improve the world for our children and for others.

We should seek to study, learn and grow in wisdom and understanding; we, too, should cultivate traits that help us to develop and expand in greatness and nobility. But we must never do so at the cost of serving others.

As you share your wisdom today, do so with compassion.

Questions to consider:

How do pursuits such as philosophy lose their usefulness in our lives?

Why do so many people feel that knowing something is enough, without ever trying to find applications of their knowledge in their own lives and in the lives of others?

How might we find ways to apply the wisdom that we have attained in our own lives?

For further thought:

“We believe just as little or as much as we please of those things in which our will can be supposed to interfere; and it is only by setting aside our own interests and inclinations on more general questions that we stand any chance of arriving at a fair and rational judgment. Those who have the largest hearts have the soundest understandings; and he is the truest philosopher who can forget himself.” ~ William Hazlitt, from his essay titled “Belief, Whether Voluntary?”

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