I am still struggling with the concept of moral humility–an elusive but important goal.
A good friend of mine, much smarter than me, told me that he does not feel he can do more than ask gentle questions. He is very effective at avoiding excessive arrogance. He practices moral humility. I aim to move in that direction.
That does not mean I should be silent. I think that if we see someone acting badly, particularly if that person is in power, we should speak. We should do that respectfully, but we may and should do that. I am trying to teach myself to criticize gently, without pontificating. That is not easy.
Today I learned something valuable for a fellow walker in our walking club. He is a strong Christian—even an evangelical Christian I would guess—and said he had learned something valuable recently. He said when talking to someone he never tried to convert the other person. Rather, he said, “I ask questions,” he said, “all I want to do is leave a stone in the other person’s shoe”.
I know that I have been pontificating too much. For example, I have been very critical of capitalism. I have never denied that capitalism has done a lot of good. It has pulled hundreds of millions out of extreme poverty into poverty. That is a momentous achievement. We need to do even better, but that is not nothing. It is a lot. I doubt that I have converted anyone.
Yet that does not mean we must give capitalism a free pass. We cannot allow capitalists free rein to destroy life on the planet as sometimes they seem bent on doing. We must criticize, but do so with humility always remembering that we mightbe wrong. Recall the uncertainty principle. Act as if we might be wrong.
As the Beatles said, “Whisper words of wisdom. Let it be.”