Over the year’s Humiliation Day has come to mean many things to many people. Before we go any further let’s quickly clear one thing up.
Humiliation Day is NOT about humiliating people.
If you thought that Humiliation Day was a chance to be mean at school or to humiliate someone online then you’ve got the wrong end of the stick. Humiliation day is about being humble, thankful and in some religions, closer to god and has nothing to do with humiliating another person – that’s simply bullying.
If anything the day is a reminder not to humiliate people and should be used to highlight the damage that humiliation can cause. Although many of us now think of the term humiliation to simply mean ‘to mock’ someone, the word has in fact been used for centuries to mean ‘the absence of pride’ and in this instance means humiliation of oneself, i.e to be humble and free from your ego.
Regardless as to whether you are religious or not, the day is a celebration of the power of humility and a condemnation of the act of humiliating another person and so you will find no humiliation of anyone else here.
Now that’s cleared up, we can move on!
Over the year’s society has adapted and evolved – many of these adaptations are good, we now have more rights, fewer people die from disease and more people have access to education and healthcare, but some adaptations are not so favourable. As countries and industries have grown exponentially, some people have become more greedy, power-hungry and selfish, forgetting how to be pious and generous to those in need.
Even the invention of the internet has its downsides, opening up an avenue for online bullying and making it easier for people to act without good faith while hiding behind their screens. In short, some people have lost their way, but thankfully Humiliation Day is a chance for them to set themselves straight.
Humiliation Day is a chance to be humble for all we have, to thank those close to us and to thank God if we are religious. It is also a chance to reinforce the strong link between bullying and suicide and how humiliating another person should never be tolerated. A person who is bullied is up to 9 times more likely to commit suicide than someone that isn’t and with humiliation one of the most common tactics used by bullies, it’s vital that we raise awareness and stop humiliating others.
History of Humiliation Day
The idea that people need a day to be humble and appreciative of what they have can be traced back to the famous US president, Abraham Lincoln. In the year 1863, Abraham Lincoln wrote to the senate declaring that the country needed a day for humiliation, fasting and prayer in order to appease God. In the resolution that he wrote to the Senate, Abraham Lincoln stated that although the United States had grown “in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown” his people had forgotten God and the hand that gave them peace.
To appease God, Humiliation Day was designed to be a chance for people to pray for clemency and forgiveness and to humble themselves before the offended power. Abraham Lincoln went on to ask that people abstain from their ordinary pursuits such as going to work, or attending dinner parties or restaurants, and unite at places of public worship or at their homes to be reminded of their service to God and all that he has done for them.
Although times have most certainly changed since Abraham Lincoln ruled the US, The United States and other countries in the world, have continued to grow in power, number and wealth, and with this growth still comes greed and self-entitlement. For this reason, a Humiliation Day is still a good chance for people to take note of their privileges and to give thanks for basic amenities such as food, running water and shelter that their forefathers worked so hard for.
Although we think that Abraham Lincoln’s Humiliation Day is a good enough reason to warrant a special day, there is another Humiliation Day that we should make reference to – The Chinese-Canadian Humiliation Day. Typically celebrated as Canada Day, but for Chinese-Canadians is known as Humiliation Day, this day remembers the Chinese Immigration Act (also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act) which was passed in Canada, stopping Chinese immigration and dividing hundreds of Chinese families.
When the act was passed parents were separated from their Children and Chinese families that remained in Canada were the victim of racism and abuse. Although still a time to be humble, this Humiliation Day focuses more on the harm that segmenting a group of people can cause to families and relationships and the adverse effects such as racism that inevitably follow.
How to celebrate Humiliation Day
With many religions now occupying the United States and more people following no religion at all, the Humiliation Day introduced by Abraham Lincoln is now scarcely celebrated as a religious day. Instead, the day stands as a reminder to look inward and to remember how fortunate we are for all the things that we have.
Therefore, to celebrate Humiliation Day we should first remember how powerful our actions can be to others, and how harmful humiliation can be for a person’s mental health. Secondly, we should remember the value of humility and how important it is to remain humble despite our great and increasing successes.
Humiliation Day for Chinese-Canadians is not a day to be celebrated but is instead a chance to remember the injustices of the Chinese Exclusion Act and to acknowledge the hurt that the act must have caused for hundreds of thousands of Chinese immigrants and their families in Canada. We may not be able to change the past or our history but we should do our best to remember it to ensure that the same mistakes are not made again.