Thoughts on humility, inspired by Green Day
Thanks to Green Day for inspiring me to think about humility today. While working on Twitter I was listening to Green Day’s album 21st Century Breakdown. I’m not a huge fan of the band, but I did enjoy their previous album American Idiot, so I figured I’d give it a listen. I liked it quite a bit.
In typical punk style, Green Day rail against a lot of things — society, corporations, (the existence from which they are now, ironically, hugely benefitting), religion, society, religion, society, and religion. And corporations.
[SNIP — I was going to include a small piece of one lyric here, but apparently that may or may not fall under fair use. As I wish to remain 100% unsued, I have chosen not to post.]
Of course this is not unusual for a punk band. I rather identify with it, as society and religion are often targets in my own writings and sermons.
Let’s face it, humility isn’t very punk. Though I wouldn’t suggest Green Day do a thing differently (and even if I did, who the hell really cares), it helped me see into myself. I don’t want to come across the way they do. They are ostensibly a “f*** off and die” punk band. My life is dedicated to helping and healing others. I know I get passionate sometimes in my message. Hearing the way Green Day continues to eviscerate culture and Chrisitianity made me wonder if I come off like that — like I think I have all the answers, like I believe so much in the applicability of all my experiences to everyone else that I am willing to make massive generalizations — like I lack humility. I think I can safely say that sometimes I do do that.
I don’t want to be that way. I want to be more nuanced (nuance isn’t punk either). I want to believe passionately in what I teach and write, but not come across like I’m flipping the bird at the world, even at people and institutions who have hurt me. Most of all, I want to leave room in the picture for my own brokenness because that is always where humility is found. It is easy to say “Society has screwed me over,” but much harder to ask and think about, “In what ways am I broken so that I need to feel like society has screwed me over?” Ultimately it will be much more beneficial to quietly ponder the second than to scream the first from the rooftops. At least, if the goal is humility. At least, for me.