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Virtue in Action – Thomas Jefferson and the Rewards of Humility

At school and in other areas of your daily life, remember that your ignorance is far greater than your knowledge. For the next month, resolve to be humble in your interactions with others.

  • Be willing to ask questions in class, even if you’re worried about revealing that you don’t know something.
  • Support others when they ask for assistance; don’t laugh at classmates who ask what
    might appear to you to be silly questions out of an earnest desire to learn.
  • In class discussion, try using the type of phrasing Franklin suggested in his journal. Note if your contributions help the group advance their knowledge, and, if so, resolve to continue.
  • When working on group projects, listen to the expertise of others and ensure that
    your contribution meets their expectations.
  • If someone else receives credit for something you did, refrain from pointing it out. Be happy that good was done, and don’t draw attention to the fact that you were
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. said,

    “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.”

    Ask your parents, siblings, teachers, coaches, friends, and others in your community for their feedback on ways you can serve them.

Sources & Further Reading

Adams, Henry. History of the United States of America during the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. 1891-96; New York: Library of America, 1986.

Malone, Dumas. Jefferson and His Time, 6 vols. Boston: Little, Brown, 1948-81

Randall, Henry S. The Life of Thomas Jefferson, 3 vols. New York: Derby and Jackson, 1858.

Randolph, Sarah N. The Domestic Life of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1871