"Noble" is not heard much these days. People may be kind or cruel, generous or stingy, hard working or lazy, but to describe someone as noble sounds outdated and probably excessive.
After all, noble is so uncool. Think of a noble person and dust quickly settles on the image. Probably not up on the latest fashions. Old. Stodgy. Nice but not passionate. A model to consider, for a few seconds at least, before getting back to the real world.
We lost a great deal when being noble went out of fashion.
Did you give your word to someone? No big deal. We have lawyers who can find a loophole. Commitments are for suckers. They didn't expect you to keep your word in the first place. Move along.
Will a personal sacrifice be required? Forget it. Who has time for such quaint thoughts? Power is what matters. Setbacks look bad on resumes.
I've thought about some noble people among my family and acquaintances and the following characteristics emerged:
- A willingness to help those who are needy.
- Gentleness without weakness.
- Dedication to doing the right thing even if it hurts.
- A more than normal amount of courtesy and kindness.
- Never rushing to blame others.
- Intellectual curiosity.
- Impatience with injustice.
- A love of freedom and independence.
- Disdain for cheap and shabby behavior.
- Courage, both physical and moral.
- A pleasant nature.
- The ability to survive setbacks without becoming bitter.
- Confidence mixed with humility.
We measure so many things in life. It might improve the world if we thought more about what it takes to be noble and whether our behavior even comes close.