The higher our position the more modestly we should behave.

The higher our position the more modestly we should behave.Cicero


This is the guy who said the quote, King Philip II of Macedonia. His son Alex might not have listened…

What does that mean?
This was an interesting quote to source, as it had variant wording. And while attributed to Cicero, he claims it was said by King Philip of Macedonia (Alexander the Great’s father).

The difference is probably due to translation, but both of the quotes urge us to be careful with our power and influence. The more we have, the more care we should take.

The quotes specify behaving modestly and walking humbly. Both are urging us to avoid being rash, brash or full of ourselves. It emphasizes restraint.

Those with power who are willing to wield it at whim, without humility or modesty, are truly to be feared. This quote urges us not to be such a beast.

Why is behaving modestly important?
The alternative to behaving modestly is to behave immodestly. In short, to be brash, obnoxious and a jerk. The loudmouth, braggart and self-centered person in every movie. The one too dense or self-absorbed to notice that their behavior is so bad that it is driving people away from them, and annoying everyone around them.

Is that the person you aspire to be, to be like or to be liked by? I would hope not. People like that are what give the handful of good and kind people who have wealth and/or power (i.e. a high place or position) bad name. Whether they are Royalty or Business Tycoons, their very behavior turns people against them.

Instead, if we take the time to think before acting, we can ask ourselves if what we are about to do is the best we can do, or if it is beneath us. The more highly we are placed, the more behaviors are beneath us. We need to comport ourselves with great care, grace, modesty, humility and dignity. To do anything less should be beneath us.

Where can I apply this in my life?
I want to start by reminding my US readers that roughly half my viewership is from outside the US. While we in the US have a very firmly entrenched definition of “the 1%”, a cultural shorthand for the wealthy and privileged, I want to remind them that to the rest of the world, we are the 1%, even our poor.

When placed in perspective, all of us who are reading this on our computers or phones are by definition highly placed in life. Yes, if you’re in a particularly rich environment, it may not seem that way, but you are, on a global scale, in pretty good shape if you have a computer or smart-phone.

As an example, a friend of mine from High School used to complain he lived in the smallest house in his neighborhood. That was interesting, until I saw his neighborhood. His house was easily twice the size of the one I lived in and cost four times as much. And my house was above average. He just didn’t know better.

He didn’t know how high his position was. He only saw his own neighborhood, and in that, he was not highly placed, so he did not behave well. Once he understood the larger picture of the rest of our affluent suburb, he calmed down and behaved with greater modesty. He behaved more modestly the greater his understanding became.

That is both the benefit and the curse of relativism. You can always find someone in better circumstances and in a worse position than yourself. Taken in that context, we are all in a high position, compared to someone else, somewhere on the planet. You might never meet them, but you can still behave modestly.

Yet it is easy to forget the larger world when we are the poorest of our friends, or drive the worst car or live in the crummiest neighborhood. But if we can look beyond ourselves and out into the greater world, we can realize how high our position is, and behave in accordance to that fact.

Take a moment and consider how you tend to behave. Where are you modest, and where are you somewhat less than modest? How and where can you behave more modestly? How would you define the term ‘more modestly’ and when would you feel a need to apply it to your life? Please take a moment to consider these question.

In our lives, we have choices. Do we react or do we decide to act? Do we respond with modesty, or with loud self-centeredness? At each point where we could decide, please take a moment and choose to behave more modestly rather than more brashly. How much nicer a world would we have if we all did this?

From: Twitter, @thehrgoddess
confirmed at : Moral Goodness. within De Officiis (search for Off-91, 8 lines down)
photo by Dennis Jarvis

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2 Responses to The higher our position the more modestly we should behave.

  1. chut7 7 April 2016 at 1:14 am #

    I was searching for quotes, when I came across your interesting blog. I do have a couple beliefs, but don’t know if there’s an ascribable quote:
    1) Generosity is a purer show of wealth than assets (this topic I’m replying to seems close, but not quite)
    2) Not knowing how to do something is not an excuse for doing it (this topic is similar, but again, not exactly the same)

    The 2nd point is actually what I was searching for today. My parents actually use the excuse quite often: “I don’t know how to do it, so could you come over and do it for me?” In my opinion, learning is something we should be doing all our lives. For sure, there are some things that are complex, require taking courses, or are fraught with risk that it’s not worthwhile to take on the task ourselves. But there are other things that a google search and a five minute read could solve.

    Do you know of a way of describing either of my two points more succinctly, or with a quote?

    • philosiblog 20 April 2016 at 2:38 am #

      Thanks for stopping by, and for leaving your kind words.

      As for the quote in 1), it doesn’t show up in a quick internet search. That said, if it is a quote from another language, or one using slightly different words, perhaps it is out there. I just couldn’t find it quickly.

      Regarding 2), your parents have what I describe as learned helplessness. While asking the first time might be genuine, after they have been taught, they are simply asking you to do it for them. That much seems fairly obvious. The next question is why? Why are they doing this? Are they wanting to see more of you, and this seems a good way to them? Perhaps you could find a way to ask them such a question, that might help them ask a little less often?

      I think you said it very well yourself. And feel free to make up your own quotes. I don’t imagine many of the people we quote today set out (at least at first) to say really smart or useful things. It just happened that they found a way to explain something important in a way that stuck with us. You could be next. 8)

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