It means righteous, virtuous, good, honorable, upright, decent, worthy, moral, ethical, reputable. (Google)
It would be nice if everyone in charge of the various things that run our world were “noble”. So often, it is the case that people who make decisions don’t even contemplate, let alone behave, in a way that has any nobility. Probably, they don’t even know what that would be.
A while ago I saw in the NY Times that instructors of students in one of our prestigious law schools had trouble with the students behaving in an unethical manner. When queried, students replied that they thought it was “ethical” to do whatever they wanted, as long as it isn’t known to be illegal. The students were surprised to discover that there was something called “ethical behavior” in society at large. I wish I could quote the article, but if you are a searcher, you can probably find it. I think it was in the Sunday Magazine, maybe 5 years ago.
Does anybody really know what noble behavior is?
I think we could say something similar about “noble behavior” only perhaps more so. Who, today, would consider behaving in a way that is “noble”? Wouldn’t it be more likely that the behavior was self-serving and proudly so? Look at Donald Trump. Very big success (so far) in his run for the GOP nomination, but Mr. Trump is an ego-maniac, a self-serving narcissist who thinks he has never made a mistake! Are most people turned off? NO! Millions of them think he is a great guy who has “outside the box” ideas!!!!! Seriously?
So it is with people in all aspects of society, including the arts. We all know about the “artistic differences” that show up in movies, plays, musicals, and in the world of fine art. Remember the huge big meltdown between Julie Taymor and U2’s Bono and The Edge over Spiderman The Musical? How about the Sony email leaks? Full of back-biting and nastiness.
If you want an example of noble behavior (in case you need one) take a look at the role of “The Marschallin” as she deals with Octavian at the end of the opera “Der Rosenkavalier” by Strauss. Doing what is right and honorable, in the face of personal pain, requires a depth of personal character most people don’t have or even contemplate having.
You, however, if you sing or teach singing, MUST be noble. As a teacher you must think of your students’ well-being. As a singer, you must think of serving the music by doing it as well as can be done in the way the composer intended.
If you are in charge of a committee, an organization or a department in a university it is incumbent upon you to act with strong moral authority and deal with your colleagues with nobility. If you have a noxious person in your department, you are still required to address that person with dignity and fairness, being above-board and honest, even if you would rather not.
It’s Up To You To Be Noble
If the world were full of people who had “good values” and who understood the impact that respectful behavior can have on other aspects of interpersonal communication, we would all be living in a very different universe. Nevertheless, you, as just one individual, can make a contribution by behaving with nobility, by being lofty, elevated, high-minded, principled; magnanimous; honorable, estimable, worthy, meritorious (Dictionary.com)
Even if others do not follow your lead, you will be able to look yourself in the mirror and know that you are the captain of your own ship.
You may not realize, but it matters.