“The wisest man is generally he who thinks himself the least so” say Boileau. Indeed wisdom and humility go together. A really wise man will never claim perfection for himself. He will always be prepared to listen others, to increase his knowledge and to correct his wrong notions. A wise man never thinks that he knows all, that he has nothing further to learn.
Truly has Rabbi Bin Azra said,
“In seeking wisdom thou art wise; in imagining that thou hast attained it thou art a fool”
Wise man have always been prepared to acknowledge their errors and follies, and been conscious of their imperfections. They have always been humble. Socrates used to say that he knew nothing. Sir Isaac Newton once compared his work to the work of a child that picks up pebbles on the sea-shore while the vast ocean of knowledge lies unexplored before him. Nelson, while dying, did not boast of his heroism and courage. He only said humbly, “I have done my duty”
To the wise absolute perfection appears to be an unattainable ideal.
“Ye are the wise and wisdom shall perish with ye” was spoken of some fools in the bible. A wise monarch knows that he may not always be right, so he has wise councilors about him. A wise general is ready to acknowledge an error of judgment and learns by his failures. A wise leader is always prepared to acknowledge his blunders. Indeed there can be no wisdom if this attitude is lacking.
A fool on the other hand, is a conceited person. He is never prepared to admit that he can be the wrong.
“The wise man endeavors to shine in himself”, says Addison; “the fool to outshine others. The first is humbled by sense of his infirmities, the last is lifted up by the discovery of those which he observes in other men”
What is it to be wise?
‘Tis but to know how little can be known---
To see others’ faults and feel our own.
We can almost always know a fool by the way he boasts of his infallible judgment and wisdom. Others commit blunders but not he. Others are lead away by false evidence, but he remains firm. If he fails, the fault lies in certain adverse circumstances in fate, in his fellow but not in him.
How can this attitude help a man in life? On the other hand, the mere fact that we are prepared to admit our mistakes proves that we are prepared to learn. It is this attitude that improves a man, develops his power of judgment and discrimination and curbs his pride. For pride makes a man blind to his own faults and one of the most fruitful sources of error.
But we must say in conclusion that there may be too much of the attitude of humility in man. If man constantly thinks that he is a fool then he will lose all his self-confidence. You cannot think yourself a fool all the time and do wise things. A wise man is the man who thinks he is a fool, is a rhetorical statement; one should not take it too literally.
Written By: Syed Faiz Mujtaba