This week’s list of “Hot Country Songs” – according to Billboard – includes Tim McGraw’s Humble and Kind; an easy waltz with timeless lyrics. A glance at other songs on the list finds the more typical topics of country music: fishing, hunting, lost love, found love, even t-shirts. But Humble and Kind digs a whole lot deeper. It’s a virtuous dose of substance in a music genre that often settles for less.
Humble and Kind sings about several examples of doing the right thing, like holding doors for others and minding your manners. But the following verses are more insightful and are my favorites:
When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you, When the work you put in is realized, Let yourself feel the pride but, Always stay humble and kind.
Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you, When you get where you’re goin’ don’t forget turn back around, And help the next one in line, Always stay humble and kind.
Humility and kindness are virtues by definition. If you time-traveled back to 400 AD, you’d meet the Roman Christian poet Aurelius Prudentius (great name). “Aury” came up with the “Seven Heavenly Virtues” and the list remains unchanged to this day. The first five are Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, and Patience. The last two are Humility and Kindness. If you lived your life according to the list, the pearly gates would swing wide when you arrive. But let’s be real – how many of us can check the boxes next to all seven virtues by the time we climb that final staircase?
Humility (Latin: humilitas) is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Kindness (Latin: benevolentia) is charity, compassion, and friendship for its own sake.
Ponder the final words of those definitions for a second. It’s not so much what you do (or don’t do) but more what your intentions are. Don’t show me things you’ve done that qualify as “humble” and “kind”. Instead, consider whether you had a hidden agenda with your actions. And that’s the kicker with the virtues game – it’s not only how others judge you but also how you judge yourself. Still think you can check the boxes?
Humble and Kind inspired a pay-it-forward movement you can learn more about at http://stayhumbleandkind.com . You’ll find all kinds of inspiring entries on the website – over eighty in the four months since the song was released. Click on any of the photos and you’ll get the story behind the good intentions. You can even request small printed cards that say #StayHumbleAndKind – meant to be left behind after you complete your acts of anonymous goodwill.
Ironically, some of Tim McGraw’s biggest country hits are about fishing (“Don’t Take the Girl” – 1994), love (“Just to See You Smile – 1997) and t-shirts (“Something Like That – 1999). But like our virtuous Roman Christian Aury, Tim and his writers step it up to poetry every now and then. Humble and Kind made it to #1 on Billboard’s “Hot Country Songs” last month. This week’s list has it at #4. Frankly, I hope it hangs on for awhile and gets a ton of airplay. The world can learn a lot from its seemingly simple words.
Some content sourced from Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.