Cultural humility is an important concept – becoming fully aware of and empathetic to another’s perspective – but it is difficult to practice.
From a Christian faith-perspective, we are called to renew our minds and hearts continually to be more like Christ and to clothe ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, patience, and gentleness (Colossions 3:12), but all religious traditions also call for these same virtuous practices. So how can we practice them together so we can be better together?
First, humility does not mean submission or not being proud of our cultural or religious traditions and identities. Humility is the spiritual practice of letting go of thoughtlessness and arrogance. What this means for what we do in Better Together BU is learning to recognize arrogant and thoughtless assumptions we make about others. We all have ways we are thoughtless towards others, and we all have biases about others. We also all experience those FROM others at different times in our lives. Remaining proud of our cultural and religious traditions and identities while still learning to recognize our thoughtlessness towards other groups is the spiritual practice of humility.
Second, cultural and religious humility is taking an empathetic stance in relation to the other. No matter who we are, we think it’s a very good idea to be empathetic to those around us, and so, we try to practice empathy by being present with each other, by listening to each other, by being vulnerable with each other, by being brave with each other, and by sharing our stories with each other.
Third, cultural and religious humility means that we take systems of power seriously because we think inequity is a problem. Whether it’s religious privilege or cultural privilege or gender privilege, these are all forms of thoughtlessness that are pervasive in our society, and they all effect the systems and institutions that we are within. We pay extra attention – we try to be extra thoughtful – about these systems of power and inequality so we can do something positive about it.
Finally, cultural and religious humility is a life-long process. Yes, this is a process and a daily practice. Practicing humility is hard work, and it takes a life-time. It’s a journey. Sometimes we will succeed and sometimes we will fail…but we will always try. Practicing humility is not something we will ever fully accomplish, but we think learning to be more thoughtful, compassionate, kind, and humble are good things that we should all pay more attention to in our lives. It takes self-reflection and courage, but we want to practice humility because we want to be better neighbors to each other.