December 2011 Archive

Like a Turtle on a Fence

Posted December 6, 2011 By Mark



The late Alex Haley, author of the novel Roots, kept on the wall of his office a picture of a turtle sitting on a fence. To him, the image held a powerful lesson. He explained, “If you see a turtle on top of a fence post, you know he had some help.” Haley continued, “Any time I start thinking, ‘Wow, isn’t this marvelous what I’ve done!’ I look at that picture and remember how this turtle—me—got up on that post.”

What Haley understood is that no one gets anywhere without a boost—without the help, attention, love, and encouragement of others. In a word, he understood humility, the forgotten virtue of our time.

We live in an increasingly aggressive, self-centered society where so many are rushing to make a statement about their successes, to be noticed and acknowledged as significant and indispensable. Some justify such behavior under the false pretense of healthy self-esteem and high self-confidence. In contrast, humility is cast as weakness.

Meanwhile, truly great men and women all around us quietly demonstrate that quite the opposite is true. They seem to draw strength not from popularity and praise but from humility and service. They allow others to be in the limelight. Their interest in others is sincere. They ask questions and then seriously consider the answers. They share credit for successes, standing with others, not above them. They give willingly, even anonymously. Their humility puts others at ease. Isn’t this the kind of person we seek as a friend—a person with a sense of self but not selfishness?

Imagine a community—or better yet, a world—where selflessness and humility are valued. Humility is strength. It is quiet but not speechless. It is certain but not superior. It respects the dignity, talents, and opinions of others. And it recognizes that, in a sense, we are all turtles sitting on a fence.



delivered by Lloyd D. Newell – Music and the Spoken Word
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