Skip to content

From Where I Stand: The Dumb Ox

Humble-Pie and Crow are never easy to swallow when we misjudge someone or judge them unfairly.
cape buffalo ox
Saint Thomas Aquinas was once nicknamed the dumb ox

ASSINIBOIA - You may know a whole lot more about him than I did when I started researching him a short time ago. I was actually quite surprised at some of the interesting things I learned.

Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274) was the youngest of nine children. His mother, Theodora, was countess of Teano, a district and small town in southern Italy. His father, Landulph, was count of Aquino. Though the Aquinas family were descendants of Emperors Frederick I and Henry VI, they were generally considered to be of lower nobility.

It is said that before Thomas was born, a holy hermit prophesied that he would become a “great learner and achieve unequaled sanctity” and success - a prophecy that would later become fulfilled.

Young Thomas would eventually become known as Saint Thomas Aquinas, a famous Dominican theologian who combined the theological principles of faith with the philosophical principles of reason.

A renowned scholar and prolific writer/author, Saint Thomas Aquinas ranked high among the most influential thinkers and teachers of medieval Scholasticism and philosophy. It turns out however, that Thomas Aquinas, the saint, was not always so highly regarded and respected.

When he was just 14 years of age, from 1239-1245, young Thomas attended the University of Naples. Then, when he was just 20 years old, from 1245-1248, he attended the University of Paris.

During this time, however, a dark cloud hung over his head. For someone so brilliant, young Thomas was unusually shy and introverted. He was so shy, in fact, that he seldom spoke in class. This shyness and subsequent silence led his classmates to conclude that he was dumb and a moron. Sadly, they nicknamed him “the dumb ox”.

How could his classmates have been so wrong about young Thomas? How could they have been so cruel and so mean? They judged him solely on the basis of his outward appearance in class, without ever taking time to get to know who he really was on the inside. His peers must have been - pardon the pun - dumb-founded when he excelled in his studies and went on to write and publish many great works of philosophy and theology that are still in use today.

Humble-Pie and Crow are never easy to swallow when we misjudge someone or judge them unfairly. I know whereof I speak. Sadly, I have eaten more than my fair share of crow and humble-pie in my lifetime. Crow tastes much worse than humble-pie, I believe, but they both taste like ... well, crap!

One would think, that after being so often wrong in our judgement of others, that we would have learned our lesson by now.

But apparently not. Sadly, that same ugly spirit of judgementalism is more alive today than it ever has been before - right up there alongside the equally ugly spirits of criticism and rude behaviour. That’s the way I see it, at least. From where I stand.

In conclusion ... we often forget, that the true measure of a man - or woman - is what’s in the heart. That should be easy to remember. Especially if we ourselves have ever been misjudged by others. Being misjudged and misunderstood really hurts. And it sucks. Bigtime!