Humility ( state of being modest or humble)

Humility ( state of being modest or humble)

Humility ( state of being modest or humble)

Yuval Noach Harari


The essay ‘Humility’ is written by a renowned essayist of Jerusalem, Yuval Yuval Noah Harari. It deals with the conflicting history of human civilization. Here, he exemplifies the virtue of humility in that he debunks humanity’s illusions of superiority and mastery. He claims morality, art, spirituality and creativity are universal human abilities embedded in our DNA.

In this essay, Harari tells us that humility is a quality that most cultures lack. Most people tend to believe that they are the center of the world and their culture is the linchpin of human history.

Greeks believe that history began with Homer, Sophocles and Plato and that all-important ideas and inventions were born in Athens, Sparta, Alexandria or Constantinople. There are Indians that believe that the invention of aeroplanes and nuclear bombs were invented by ancient sages long before Confucius or Plato, not to mention Einstein and the Wright brothers.

The Jews believe that monotheism should be credited to them and that they are a significant group in the world – the top three religions. But there are only 15 million Jews and there is no reason to think that they should be considered more important than the Hindu religion that has far more followers. Each group believes itself to be the centre of the universe and the inventor of the most important philosophies and contributions.

But no group is truly unique – some form of their philosophy and beliefs has existed before them. The religions that survived are those that were the most violent – they managed to convert the largest number of populations to their belief. For example, the Biblical phrase that Jews take credit for “love thy neighbour as thyself” has appeared before in China.

Similarly, monotheism (the doctrine or belief that there is only one God) can be traced back to Egypt and is not originally Jewish. Monotheism has contributed to catastrophize in the world and one should not be proud of having invented it. Christianity a few centuries after its inception banned all religions except for the Jewish religion although many Jews were still persecuted, while Islam today considers all history prior to Mohammed to be irrelevant.

The Chinese nationalists believe that many great ideas originated in their culture. The Jews believe that they are the chosen people and that the gentiles are not equal to them in importance according to God. While some sages have called for religious tolerance, the prevailing trend throughout history has always been to persecute those who have different beliefs. And this is ironically the same self-centeredness that most religions have warned against.

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