“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” – Climate activist Greta Thunberg.
Often in Irish society people who are meek, humble and modest are considered weak. Even psychology would tend to consider such traits as passive and unassertive, not able to express their power in suitable ways. But the spiritual dimension can offer us something new here: it speaks of modesty as a strength, someone who acknowledges the right order of things, a respect and reverence for life and for all the people on this planet.
When 16-year-old Greta Thunberg spoke to world leaders at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit in New York, she was anything but weak and passive. Yes, her speech was shaky and her emotion was high, but she was strong in her vulnerability as she accused the leaders of ignoring the science behind the climate crisis which is the burning issue of our time.
Moreover, in the Bible Mary considers herself a lowly handmaid when an angel declares that she will become the mother of Jesus. In her simplicity and devotion, she puts her trust and believes in something that is bigger than her. She is also the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an which considers her the most beautiful woman inside and out.
So, the next time we hear such tenderness in a brother or sister, perhaps we can pause and reflect that this is indeed something good, not to be taken as weakness but something to be celebrated. We can sing “Hallelujah” for their magnificent modesty!
Oil painting by Siobhan Murphy.