A few months ago I was turned onto this "new" or rather... more accurate translation of the word meek in the Bible. I've always had the impression that "meek" is associated with shyness and submission, with not speaking up. Merriam-Webster defines it as "deficient in spirit and courage," and so it's no wonder that scholars and churchgoers have grappled for hundreds of years with how this "deficiency of spirit" could be called a virtue. Most seem to turn it into gentleness or politeness, or the exhortation to turn the other cheek. But the word "meek" - as in Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth --comes from the Greek word praus, which actually refers to great power under rigorous control. Think of a holy warrior who fights only when necessary, only in service of his ideals -- or even the slow, strong energy of the nonviolent masses rising up in resistance, biding their time until their moment has come. The poet Mary Karr has a beautiful take:
Who The Meek Are Not / by Mary Karr
Not the bristle-bearded Igors bent under burlap sacks, not peasants knee-deep in the rice-paddy muck, nor the serfs whose quarter-moon sickles make the wheat fall in waves they don't get to eat. My friend the Franciscan nun says we misread that word meek in the Bible verse that blesses them. To understand the meek (she says) picture a great stallion at full gallop in a meadow, who— at his master's voice—seizes up to a stunned but instant halt. So with the strain of holding that great power in check, the muscles along the arched neck keep eddying, and only the velvet ears prick forward, awaiting the next order.
A lot of artists talk about resistance, about cutting through the negative voices in their minds, and I have done so a number of times in this space as well. This idea of praus, of using this discipline and power in service of a noble cause... I find it inspiring. I can hear the voice already asking "noble cause? you're not marching on Washington today, sister, you're just singing songs." But these songs are my noble cause, and that of thousands of other artists on this planet. And being too "polite" and submissive to the voices of resistance and of lies and fears, bearing their injury without speaking up, isn't serving anyone (least of all myself).
Science teachers in Texas (and other places, I hear) are starting to give "equal time" to the Creationism propaganda rather than teach only the facts of evolution -- facts which have gained volumes upon volumes of evidence over the past decades and continue to do so**. Even the media today allow for "two sides" of an issue to have their say, when one side is fact and the other the opinion of someone who doesn't like it. I'm all for equal, honest debate. But pretending that Fact vs. Opinion is such is nonsense. And so is giving equal credence to the insidious negativity of the thoughts in our heads.
A deficiency of spirit and courage is no virtue to me. But the rigorous control of the great power of the mind certainly is. Here's to developing your meekness.
(with h/t to Rob Breszny's Free Will Astrology for introducing me to praus in the first place.)
**for an incredible exploration of this evidence, check out Richard Dawkins' The Greatest Show on Earth.