Of Hubris & Humility

I’ve written a handbook for people who want to defy the status quo.

The handbook is three words long: hubris and humility.

Hubris is that audacious belief that you can do something. I can build a boat, make art people would buy, run for public office. Hubris is active resistance to what we’re told we can, should, are supposed to do.

Humility is the ability to learn, to change, and to be changed through the process. It is not hubris-less; it is the wisdom to know when to step aside from our hubris and open up to a greater intelligence.

Then there’s that third word: and. Hubris and humility, not hubris but humility. We need the two alongside each other in equal measure.

It’s not the easiest marriage. Hubris wants to drive the car full throttle, humility’s tapping its shoulder, saying, “I think if we slow down and take that turnoff, we’ll get somewhere more interesting.”

Non-compliance with convention means holding these two nearly contradictory elements. In fact, not just holding, but being in relationship with them.

It’s difficult; docility and going along are much less difficult. Still, it is not impossible. In fact, if we are to leave the world greater than we found it, it is essential. And if I were to write an epilogue to the handbook, it would say this:

The combined force of hubris and humility is the very thing, perhaps the only thing, that will change the status quo.

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