When one conjures up images of General George Patton (portrayed by George C. Scott) in the epic movie, Patton, one can easily think of glory, but what about humility? Much has been written about Patton and his complex nature. Among other virtues, some say he was a man with an iron will combined with humility, at times veiled thinly behind his bluster.
Perhaps it is easier to think of Nelson Mandel as a man with an iron will combined with the virtue of humility. It is written that despite Nelson Mandela’s profound impact on South Africa, democracy and the struggle for equality around the world, he remains a famously humble man. Mandela says it was necessary to transform himself into a modest man in order to change society. During an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, this former South African president shares the importance of humility with Oprah.
These two video clips serve to only scratch the surface of the topic: Of Glory and Humility.
Shared below is an excerpt of Patton’s writings which reveal his knowing about the true nature of glory in the context of victory. His words are poignant and expressed with humility.
“For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.” – George S. Patton