Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Short (and late) Post, plus noting humility

It's been a while since I posted but I have a good excuse: moving. Moving is acknowledged by many psychologists as one of life's most stressful events. My wife Hope and I recently packed up and left New York's Hudson Valley after 11 pleasant and mostly fulfilling years, to return to Bethesda, Maryland to a house we have owned for a long time but not occupied for twenty-five years. Why? The clearest answer is to get farther away from NY taxes and closer to our son who lives in Baltimore. But there is a greater significance. The house is where our young children grew up and so the verse Hope chose for our change of address card is appropriate - by T.S. Eliot, from Little Gidding

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Quite right, once we can see past all the boxes....

On a less personal note:  we have a president  who dominates the media with his boasting, falsehoods and glorification of ME. So when one comes across examples of humility, you want to store them away like squirrels do acorns before wintertime.

I watched all of former FBI Director James Comey's riveting June 8 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee and was struck by his not infrequent use of a phrase: "I could be wrong"  prefacing an opinion. Uttered for effect? Perhaps, but refreshing none the less. You seldom hear that from any public figure.

Then on June 7, this announcement from MIT, later widely reported:

"MIT has received a commitment of $140 million in unrestricted funds that can support any facet of the Institute's educational and research mission. The contribution, is from an alumnus who wishes to remain anonymous..."  The donor received financial aid while a student at MIT.

This huge gift is from someone who doesn't want the credit or his name on a building or a college program. We never expect to know the name.This gift in unrestricted. The donor trusts the institution to put it to wise use and isn't advocating a favorite cause or program. It is an act of  humble generosity.

The theologian Thomas Merton once wrote: "Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real,"  The root of the word humility is Latin humilis or low. Let us honor those whose self esteem doesn't require the vaporous fuel of puffed up self congratulation. Let us honor and support those real citizens who serve the public interest selflessly.

I hope you had a fine July 4.