Modesty & Modernity
Perfect modesty will abstain from whatever tends to sin, as well as from sin itself. . . . If secure ourselves, we must not put temptation in the way of others. We must love our neighbor as ourselves.
“Modesty is the color of virtue,” Diogenes wrote in the fourth century B.C. Unfortunately, in our own day, one might say that it is a color that is out of style. Like a chartreuse tuxedo, no matter what the occasion its wearer is sure to stand out.
The notion of modesty runs counter to our age. Immodesty is assertive, and cares not about the sensitivity of others. It is seeks to draw attention to itself, either in dress or in attitude. Modesty, on the other hand, calls for self-denial. It asks us to give up our vanity and, perhaps even more difficult, our independence.
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Thomas S. Buchanan is the George W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Delaware. He has studied at UCSD, Northwestern University, and MIT, and has held visiting professorships at the University of Western Australia and the University of Aix-Marseille. He has served as department chairman, deputy dean, and institute director, president of the American Society of Biomechanics, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied Biomechanics. He is on the Board of Trustees of Saint Katherine College, the editorial board of Touchstone, and the board of The Fellowship of St. James.
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