Will the meek inherit the earth?

gladiator

For some years I have assumed that far from inheriting the earth, the meek will be trampled underfoot.  I am beginning to wonder whether I am mistaken.

Blessed are the meek:for they shall inherit the earth.

The phrase always struck me as peculiarly stupid, even if the sentiment itself and the Sermon are beautiful.

My wife is meek. Well, usually. Almost always actually. She is the sort of irritating little soul who always lets people push in front of her in a queue.  Who assumes the land is full of milk and honey and that most people around here are not vicious thugs but jolly nice chaps.  If she can’t inherit her place at the traffic lights, what hope has she for the wider world?

And yet it has struck me very forcibly recently that you can “inherit the earth”, in a sense, by meekness. Or by being relaxed and laid back.

Who cares about the queue at the PC World repair desk?  Or the fact that one old biddy and one rather ferocious middle aged woman jumped the queue right in front of your nose?

Quite contrary to my usual impatience and sense of frustration, I very deliberately decided to smile through the incident. I didn’t go so far as to say nothing but I  politely said that actually I had been waiting an hour, but that the agressive lady was welcome to my place if she felt the need.

I had already told the old biddy to go ahead since (a) she was an old biddy and (b) I thought she was going to be quick. She wasn’t!

But here is the point. I felt calm, relaxed, able to smile. My heart rate did not rise. I did not become aggressive or shout at the shop assistants.

I felt good. It was a bright sunny morning and I had enjoyed my walk to the shop. I enjoyed the walk back too.

I have spent some time recently doing my best to change my life. Not outwardly but inwardly.

Not I fear out of any sense of altruism, but because it makes me feel better. To do new things, to see life in a different light. To act out of character. To re-wire my tired and often glum brain.

And it seems to be working so far.  Perhaps my behaviour has been calm and unruffled rather than meek. But I reckon the calm may actually inherit the earth.

A damascene conversion perhaps.  A sudden, unshakeable conviction that meekness is one of the “doors of perception”.

meek
meek

3 Comments

  1. Hi Zeno, I just thought I’d check out your blog after you followed mine – thanks – and I’ve had the rare experience of reading more than one post of a blog and thinking, “Hey, this is good stuff”. Reciprocal subbing looks in order.

    The title of this piece struck me, and the content didn’t let me down, although your thoughts went in a different direction to mine. I’ve thought about that Biblical passage too, some of which was trying to accommodate it in my new-agey-vedanta-buddhisty mysticism (now thankfully abandoned). It seemed to me that the aggressive, the violent and warring, were killing each other, or in prison, and potentially destroying the planet (this was particularly apparent during the Cold War). Hence, IF humanity survives, it will be that portion of humanity that has mastered being “meek”, or at least adquately forgiving and compromising with others. So “the meek shall inherit the Earth” might be more of a warning to the “unmeek”.

    But, in order to live and pass on this meekness culturally or herediarily also requires controlling the unmeek, standing up to the violent, and perhaps even deposing the odd psychopath by force. Speaking softly, but carrying a big stick, is maybe useful.

    I think aggression and meekness are two evolutionary tactics members of social species like apes (e.g. humans) employ to survive and pass on their genes (for aggression and meekness), but it’s probably a simplistic view to see those too separately. The alpha male generally shows lots of aggression to dominate the chimpanzee troop, for example, but also has to spend a lot of time building alliances by grooming, keeping the peace in other members’ disputes, and being trustworthy. Over-aggressive bullies soon lose friends, who gang up on them and replace them, often by killing them.

    Of course, the point of that in the good old days before one species took over the world was to pass on those genes (chimp alpha males and Genghis Khan taking most of the mating opportunities). I think I can safely say we’ve pretty well mastered passing on the human genome now, to the tune of 8 billion. Surviving from here on may involve undermining those base evolutionary drives we were programmed with in groups of a few dozen. We each need to recognise that our significant progeny is now a cultural lineage, what we do ourselves and help to teach anyone’s kids, rather than how many problematic additional mouths we can leave behind.

    Hmm, your wife is meek, you say, but I just read that you can’t get her to turn her phone down at night. The meek are pretty crafty sometimes! 😉

    1. You speak the same language. Evolution (pointless, scary, directionless evolution) has made us (and most other animal species) a bunch of unpleasant, violent, selfish thugs.

      I have been reading on your website that you share some of the same hopes as I do. That science and technology may offer us the chance to eradicate many of the less helpful qualia and emotions we evolved.

      I don’t like living in a universe dominated by Jeff Bezos and his mates. I don’t like supporting thugs in Libya and all sorts of other third world hellholes with arms.

      The world is, frankly, shitty. Changing our very nature through genetic engineering, drugs or technology is probably the only way out.

      Perhaps I am feeling particularly negative today.

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