Top Ten Lowly Moments

Posted on 01/01/10

Around 1392–272 BC: Moses is lauded in the Old Testament for being “exceedingly humble, more than any person on the face of the earth.” Sure, he brought down plagues and led an unruly people for forty years, but Moses did not regard his gifts as his own.

Around 900 BC: The widowed Ruth, having chosen to live with her impoverished mother-in-law, gleans in the fields side by side with Naomi.

Sometime between 200 BC–10 BC: Tamil saint Tiruvalluvar writes the Tirukkural, the poetic Hindu holy book that calls humility the “strength of the strong and the weapon/ With which the wise conquer their foes.”

33 AD: At the Feast of Passover, Christ rises from supper, lays aside his garments, girds himself with a towel, and washes the feet of his surprised disciples.

875: Traveling incognito, King Alfred the Great humbly submits to a tongue-lashing from an old woman whose cakes he has accidentally allowed to burn.

1300: An anonymous stonemason completes a gargoyle on the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.

March 4, 1865: In his 703-word second inaugural address, a worn Abraham Lincoln calls for humility in rebuilding the Union “with malice toward none, with charity for all.”

1943: U.S. general Omar Bradley, who never issues an order without saying “please” and goes into the field with his soldiers clad in a common trooper’s garb, is discovered by war correspondent Ernie Pyle, who makes Bradley famous as “The Soldier’s General.”

1953: Harry and Bess Truman set out on a cross-country road trip with the former president at the wheel of their new Chrysler. The Trumans are surprised to find themselves recognized everywhere.

January 15, 2009: After executing a brilliant landing of a disabled plane on the Hudson River without losing a single passenger, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger praises his crew for the successful outcome.