The Case for Modesty, in an Age of Arrogance

It's time we remember that vanity is not a virtue — and try practicing some humility

Gerald Herbert / Getty

President Barack Obama

Virtues, like viruses, have their seasons of contagion. When catastrophe strikes, generosity spikes like a fever. Courage spreads in the face of tyranny. But some virtues go dormant for generations, as we've seen with thrift, making its comeback after 40 years in cold storage. I'm hoping for a sudden outbreak of modesty, a virtue whose time has surely come.

You can understand why this one went out of style. It was too often twisted into a demand — that a lady demurely contain herself, not make a spectacle, do nothing that makes a man feel like anything but a king. At...

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