Humility is profoundly lacking in our millennial generation.
We’ve lost sight of how astronomically unlikely it is that any of us are even here. We are literally floating through infinity on a spinning blue sphere, hurling through the cosmos with no particular cause.
Yet somehow, amidst this chaos and absurdity, humankind has come to a point of technological development where massive portions of the world live in relative comfort and security.
It’s not sensical that this has happened. The odds were stacked against us.
We forget how unimaginably lucky we are to have this opportunity, to be shielded by the constructs of Western culture so we might survive and thrive.
I’m not saying there is any shortage of oppression in our culture—but that is different than saying that culture is made up of nothing but oppression. The latter statement reflects an absence of humility.
I hope the following quotes inspire a much-needed sense of humility:
Jordan B. Peterson shared a lecture some time ago entitled “Reality And The Sacred,” and it absolutely blew me away.
It’s mindf*ck central, seriously.
See what I mean?
“The Daoists would say that everywhere that you go has things that you understand that are orderly, and things that you don’t understand that are chaotic. The chaotic things attract your attention because you already understand the orderly things. If something unexpected happens then your nervous system automatically reacts to it and orients you toward it, and sometimes that can be catastrophic.”
I recently wrote a piece on the balance between order and chaos predicated upon this lecture as well.
“So this is an experience that some of you will have in the next four years: undoubtedly there’s a number of you that want to go to medical school, or graduate school, or business school, and a certain percentage of you will take the admission tests that will determine whether or not you are able to take that path. A certain percentage of you will score below the 50th percentile on the tests, and that will mean you will not be attending those institutions. When that happens, you will shake and tremble as you go to open the envelope to find out your results, and if you haven’t achieved the score that you expected you would achieve, then your world will fall apart. That means you will descend from the domain of order into the domain of chaos.”
There is a thin boundary between the realm of order and the realm of chaos, and humility is founded upon the knowledge of how thin this boundary really is. This truth manifests for us in small ways every day, whether we lose our keys, spill our coffee, or overcook our dinner. In those moments, we peek into the domain of chaos—the unknown—that we cannot control.
Humility is characterized by how well we contend with the shift between order and chaos.
“This happens to people all the time. It happens to people when they develop an illness that they can’t control, because then their body stops becoming something they can predict. It happens to people when they are in an intimate relationship and they are betrayed. They assumed fidelity, and the person tells them that they’ve had an affair. That’s chaos! It means that you didn’t know who that person was. The future you imagined no longer exists.”
And this is the most humbling quote I have ever heard:
“Your perceptions of people are erroneous at some level of analysis that you don’t understand. It’s conceivable that you are naïve beyond belief, and that everything you believed about yourself and other people up until that point was false! When a revelation occurs that knocks out one of the walls that supports you and you descend accidentally into chaos, you’ll regard that as one of the worst experiences of your life.”
We’ve all had experiences like this to lesser or greater degrees.
When I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, a deeply-rooted and profoundly debilitating illness (the end to which is entirely unpredictable) I descended into chaos. I continue to descend as I continue to be afflicted by it.
This makes me think of the “Dark Knight,” oddly enough, where the Joker represents all that is chaos—all we have neglected in order to keep our structures orderly. Batman symbolizes the the pre-established order. Sooner or later, the structures will fail, both inwardly and outwardly, and when that time comes if we are not equipped to deal with it rightly, we destroy ourselves and those around us.
Humility is key in dealing with those times and proceeding through them with a sense of poise. It has been absolutely integral through my dealings with illness to remain humble and to not to succumb to the illusions my ego lays out before me.
Nothing is static in this universe. Everything is in a constant state of flux, and we are a part of that flux. At a certain point, we are going to have to let go of our presuppositions, our assumptions, and our beliefs if we are to truly progress as human beings. We cultivate ourselves through modulating the balance between order and chaos.
If we are confined to the domain of order, then we are a ticking time bomb. If we are confined to the domain of chaos, then we are malevolent weasels.
Attaining the proper balance between order and chaos is the essence of human existence, and this balance cannot possibly come into being unless we remain humble.
As professed by the great Kendrick Lamar: “B*tch be humble.”
Author: Samuel Kronen
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