Eating crow with a side of humble pie

Published on Friday, 13 June 2014 23:20 - Written by Rebecca Hoeffner

Crow, hats, and humble pie: all unpalatable, yet a taste we’re all familiar with. I recently had a helping when several readers corrected the history lesson in last week’s column about D-Day.

I am not sure why I phrased it the way I did; if you asked me when the United States entered WWII, I could have told you that of course the United States declared war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. My only possible excuse is having written too quickly.

To make matters worse, I had just scolded other members of my generation for their lack of knowledge about our history — the hypocrisy! I wanted to hide under my covers with embarrassment for days.

I have always considered myself a prideful person; it’s one of the things I like least about myself. Then I make a mistake and get taken down a notch. Maybe those moments are actually a gift from the heavens, because nothing will keep you from being prideful like messing up in front of thousands of readers.

For a long time, I didn’t really understand humility. I confused it with having a low self-esteem, which of course isn’t good at all.

I’ve always liked what C.S. Lewis said about humility.

“If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not very conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.”

I used to think people who talked themselves down and refused to accept compliments were humble, but Lewis made me reconsider.

“Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be the sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”

What about you? Have you ever experienced a moment that keeps you humble? Is humility a concept you struggle with?