Give yourself a pat on the back – you have worked hard to get to where you are in life. In high school, you were probably near the top of your class, were president of nearly every club and did one-gazillion hours of service. At Georgetown, you may have already scored that prestigious internship, studied in two foreign countries, learned five languages or all three.

I compliment you on all your accomplishments in the hopes that you will not take what I say next too personally: It is time to get over yourself.

I mention this not to belittle all you have done, but only as a reminder of the harsh truth that we Georgetown students really are not “all that.” We are not that intelligent, witty or clever. We are not that hardworking, passionate or spirited. We are not really revolutionizing the way the world runs. In fact, many of us objectively have done very little, much of which has been solely to advance our own resumes.

I will admit my own flaw of humorous hubris. It is a breath of fresh air to realize how insignificant we really are and shrug off our own vainglorious presumptions.

All this may come as quite a shock. After all, we have been told our whole lives that we are special, that we have some assortment of talents and gifts that separate us from the typical person. Yet we Hoyas are no different than the illegal immigrant, the poor mother of five, the homeless beggar or the Afghan refugee. In the end, we are all broken.

Brokenness comes in different forms. Around the world and right outside our main gates, countless people yearn for sustenance, for security, for shelter, for companionship. However, what we often fail to recognize is the hidden, invisible brokenness that pervades much of our own society in well-off neighborhoods as well as poorer sections. We readily forget that everyone is broken – and that brokenness is a truly human characteristic.

Our generation suffers from a paucity of satisfaction in a time of great material prosperity. We are surrounded by unimaginable amounts of knowledge, yet we cannot be convinced of even basic values. We have been taught that failure is not an option, and that our identity is built solely upon what we have accomplished. All of this leads to internal struggle, as we strive to mend an inner brokenness that, for the most part, we refuse to acknowledge.

Accepting our limitations, our brokenness and our failures is the beautiful gift of humility, a word from the Latin root humilis, literally translated as “on the ground.” Humility teaches us that it is OK to fail; it can be a learning experience.

It transforms social justice from a patron-client relationship to a symbiotic connection: Just as we can help those less fortunate, so too can they teach us countless lessons of another kind. Humility unveils the brokenness all around us and reveals the poverty of our own lives. It can make our service and good deeds less like excursions and more of a lifestyle.

The accomplishments we achieve and the service we do are not inherently malevolent, provided we realize our limitations and act with pure intentions. It is, however, a bad idea to see college as many of us saw high school: as a place to focus on building up ourselves. It is time to put childish things away. It is time to ask ourselves what we would do differently with our lives at Georgetown if we were to remain here for 40 years instead of moving on after four. Perhaps it would be a lifetime of many failures and few accomplishments – but perhaps it would also be one of humble learning and great understanding.

Michael Fischer is a junior in the College. He can be reached at POSTSCRIPTS appears every other Friday.”

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