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May 23, 2024 —It’s graduation season, which means it’s commencement address season. Host Mike Jordan Laskey did a quick Google search for “most common words in graduation speeches,” and the top hit provided this list — which doesn’t include prepositions or other super-common words:

1. Life
2. Make
3. People
4. World
5. Yourself
6. Success
7. Generation
8. Human

There are certainly exceptions, but the standard commencement address is all about YOU, the graduates, and what YOU will do with YOUR immense gifts to find incredible success or change the world. Here’s some stuff you don’t typically hear: You’re not any more special than anyone else; no achievements are really yours alone; you’re going to die someday. In other words, there’s not much humility this time of year — not among most graduates and certainly not among those select few invited to give graduates advice.

My guest today thinks the world could use a lot more humility. Dr. Christopher Bellitto is a professor of history at Kean University in New Jersey and a frequent media commentator on Catholicism. His latest book from Georgetown University Press is titled “Humility: The Secret History of a Lost Virtue,” which is incredibly readable, fascinating and even fun. It traces the concept of humility through millennia, going back to Socrates in ancient Greece — when humility wasn’t always seen as a good thing — up through teachings from Judaism, Islam and Christianity and into the Enlightenment and all the way up into our modern context.

Mike asked Chris why he decided to write the book, and what he learned about the history of humility. They also talked a bit about St. Ignatius of Loyola, who had his own complex relationship with humility. Chris is one of my the best conversationalists around and Mike had a lot of fun digging into this underappreciated, under-practiced virtue.

Learn more about Chris and his new book.

AMDG is a production of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States.

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