John Lewis is a true American hero.
He dedicated his life to improving the lives of others by giving a voice to the voiceless. His example is one that we should all be courageous enough to follow.
Before he died, Lewis sent an op-ed to the New York Times to be published posthumously. The entire essay is a shining example of what it means to balance pride and humility in the pursuit of a meaningful goal.
The very first sentence of the essay is filled with humility:
John Lewis is a man who inspired thousands upon thousands of people to fight for justice and equal treatment. And yet here is, in his final public statement, immediately recognizing the inspiration he drew from others.
The essay goes on to shine a light on the impact Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had on him. It talks about the importance of learning from history. It recognizes the suffering of those who have suffered at the hands of racism and intolerance.
And then the penultimate paragraph ends with this:
This is the authentic pride of John Lewis shining through.
He understands the power of his example and the impact that his own actions have had over the last sixty years in the fight for racial justice. He’s not afraid to state it because he’s earned that ability.
Furthermore, Lewis has a genuine belief that the example he has set — which he learned from Dr. King — is a good one for those who want to carry on his legacy to follow.
It’s a poignant, powerful essay that is a quintessential example of primility in writing from a man who practiced primility in his life.
On the one hand, he understood the power that his personal actions could have. “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble,” he wrote.
But on the other hand, he recognized that his vision for the future could only be achieved by working together, learning from one another, and, above all else, letting “the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.”
Now contrast Lewis’ understated but magnificent example of primility with this:
I can’t think of anyone who is more the anthesis of primility than Donald Trump.
Consider this statement, and consider it within the context of a conversation about John Lewis:
Then tack on the dismissal (or lack of awareness) of Lewis’ accomplishments, and the spectacularly narcissistic focus on Lewis’ decision to not attend Trump’s inauguration or State of the Union addresses.
Donald Trump is the quintessential example of hubristic pride. He is a terrifying example of what happens when pride runs amok and is not balanced by genuine humility.
Even an occasional dose of performative humility would go a long way for a man whose example is so important but who has shown nary an empathetic thought, let alone act, since assuming the presidency.
Whereas John Lewis’ example is one we should all strive to follow, Donald Trump’s example is one we should discard with disdain.
These are two men on opposite ends of the primility spectrum. John Lewis was a living embodiment of the idea of balancing pride and humility, while Donald Trump is the worst kind of pride, all the time.
John Lewis reminds us of the power of everlasting love.
Donald Trump just reminds us of the destruction of unrestrained ego.