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Chapter 12: Humility (21 Lessons for the 21st Century)

In this chapter, Harari tells us that humility is a quality that most cultures lack. There are Indians that believe that the invention of nuclear science should be credited to them. The Jews believe that monotheism should be credited to them and that they are a significant group in the world – the top three religions. But there are only 15 million Jews and there is no reason to think that they should be considered more important than the Hindu religion that has far more followers.

Each group believes itself to be the center of the of the universe and the inventor of the most important philosophies and contributions.

But no group is truly unique – some form of their philosophy and beliefs has existed before them. The religions that survived are those that were the most violent – they managed to convert the largest number of populations to their belief.

For example, the Biblical phrase that Jews take credit for “love thy neighbour as thyself” has appeared before in China. Similarly, monotheism can be traced back to Egypt and is not originally Jewish. Monotheism has contributed to catastrophise in the world and one should not be proud for having invented it.

Christianity a few centuries after its inception banned all religions except for the Jewish religion although many Jews were still persecuted, while Islam today considers all history prior to Mohammed to be irrelevant. The Chinese nationalists believe that many great ideas originated in their culture. The Jews believe that they are the chosen people, and that the gentiles are not equal to them in importance according to God.

While some sages have called for religious tolerance, the prevailing trend throughout history has always been to persecute those who have different beliefs. And this is ironically the same self-centeredness that most religions have warned against.

Read 21 Lessons For The 21st Century

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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