To succeed, they had to be awed by the magnitude of the task and be humbled, not assertive. – Walter Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
Walter Isaacson is an American biographer. Benjamin Franklin lived about as useful a life as our species has produced and Issacson’s biography is a work that everyone from casual readers to serious Franklin scholars will find readable. We fall somewhere in between here at The Thought for the Day and we found this book compelling, as good a biography as we’ve read and this wasn’t our first.
Today’s Thought is about the men who made up the assorted state delegations to Constitutional Convention in 1787 in Philadelphia. There were an awful lot of competing interests, personal, political and regional and there was no small amount of trading and compromising that went on. Ultimately, thanks in no small part to the work of James Madison and the guiding hand of Franklin, our Constitution was produced.
Humility, caused in no small part by an awareness of the magnitude of the task, also played a part.
…and be humbled, not assertive.
Humility is a trait that serves us humans well. Humility allows you to see deep inside yourself, to discover the life you were truly meant to live. It resists outside influences that are merely there to distract us. Humility allows us to see the greater good, instead of our own self-interest, although it should be noted the self-awareness humility brings produces confidence that does not allow us to be taken advantage of.
Humility’s opposite, arrogance, does not allow for any of these things. Had arrogance been the ruling trait of the Constitutional Convention, nothing would have been accomplished and while no one can say for certain what would have happened, it is possible America eventually would have broken up into a two or more regional countries.
Collectively, humility allows for progress. Individually, humility allows us to live the life we were meant to live. It gives us the power to live our lives honestly.