The World has a weakness for people who are modest. We all love the person who belittles his own abilities and achievements. He endears himself to us by embracing mediocrity and coming down to our level. He is virtuous and noble. Had he exhorted us to come up to his level and become his equal, he would have been termed arrogant and blasphemous. It puzzles me.
Isn’t being modest akin to being dishonest? And isn’t dishonesty the worst disease that afflicts mankind? What is wrong in acknowledging the fact that one is a gifted singer without looking down upon people who cannot sing? Isn’t that accepting and thanking God for a wonderful gift? We certainly don’t do justice to God for bestowing a rare gift by feigning modesty to gain acceptance in the society and feed our dark, conceited self in loneliness.
We all despise the smooth tongued hypocrite who sings praises in our presence and becomes the exact opposite when we turn our backs to him. Worse perhaps, he despises us from deepest recesses of his heart. Similar is the person who feigns modesty. He has a glib tongue, he uses it to endear himself to us but deep down he despises the same people for being so mediocre.
People often misconstrue honesty with arrogance. There is a huge difference between the two. For the honest person, an attempt to feign modesty is akin to flirting with dishonesty. For the others, the lines are blurred. Whenever I said that I did not believe in modesty and that I feel that modesty promotes mediocrity, I have seen knowing glances being exchanged. Some look at me with a wry smile as if I am proud of being arrogant. Maybe I was not coherent enough, or my audience just couldn’t see the point I was trying to make.
Maybe the list of virtues was prepared by a person who was dishonest himself. It has been drilled into us since time immemorial and has become a very indispensable evil now. Imagine a world full of honest individuals. Modesty would not find a place in our list of virtues. Modesty helps mediocrity survive. I believe that we would have gone a long way had we not been taught to feign modesty in every walk of life!