I've banged on before, here and here and here, about how I hate the new habit of expressing appreciation for an honour by explaining how 'humbled' you feel. However, this morning, having heard the Queen thank her nation for her Jubilee celebrations by telling them that she feels 'humbled', I realise that I must admit complete defeat.
The Macquarie dictionary defines 'humble' as meaning 'low in station, grade or importance,' or 'modest, meek, without pride' and the verb as meaning 'to lower in condition, importance or dignity; abase' or 'to make meek'. I suppose it is the second meaning that the Queen is using the word in (she can hardly mean 'low in station' can she?) I still think it's a mad approach.
When countless people have spent millions to amaze you, dazzle you and show you a riproaring (if rather rainsodden) good time, I imagine they'd be hoping that you would respond with excitement, joy, delight and rapture. To tell them you feel modest at the end of it all seems to me to rather put a dampener on things.
But it appears that 'humbled' is the 'appropriate' response to such things these days, indicating that not for one minute does anyone delude themselves that they are better than anyone else or feel an instant of that dreadful thing called pride (a pinch might be allowed if you were a survivor of Gallipoli, but only a tiny pinch even then). And we would never want to be anything other than 'appropriate'.
Marginalia, no.347 - Each of us in his own person feels that a high-hearted indifference to life would expiate all his short-comings. ~ William James, Varieties of Religious Ex...
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