An incident I was involved with yesterday and an article I read have me thinking about the concept of humiliation and the relationship to humility. The author fo the article was saying that there is no more destructive thing in the world than being humiliated, and I think that this is probably true. As I ponder this, I see the theme popping up in this morning's chapter, rightly or wrongly.
What made me particularly pay attention was Jesus' characterization of world leadership--people want to lord things over other people. I think this is so deeply ingrained in us that it can be hard to escape. If we don't have power, we want to feel superior when it comes to our looks, if we don't have looks, we want to feel better due to our intelligence. I notice sometimes people help make themselves feel good by referring to their own common sense, which no one else seems to have. Worst of all, sometimes we feel superior to people due to our spirituality. Jesus seems to be saying here to forget all about that, and never to feel superior to anyone.
This is just incredibly hard, when I think about it. In fact, how do I even manage to stay mentally healthy if I don't have something that I think I do well, and the fact is that I am only going to know that I can do it well if I compare myself to other people. Everyone can walk, I am not going to feel a sense of accomplishment due to my walking skills--I need something that distinguishes me and makes me feel like a real, unique person in the world. Humiliation is an attach on my personhood, and I need something that gives that back to me.
I wonder if what Jesus is pointing us to is a personhood, a sense of self, that is rooted in the connections we have with God and other people--really in a sense of community. My drive to be the best at something is powerful, and it is hard to believe I could be fulfilled by relationships alone, without having someone recognize me as special in some way.
I'm not sure I've totally got the right angle on this, but it intrigues me and I'm going to pray about it more.