“When you are offended at any [person’s] fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger.”
How does someone interpret the quote of Epictetus’? The Stoic philosopher who lived in early Christian times noted the inevitable freak of human nature; we hate that which reminds us of that which we hate of or in ourselves.
The Forrest Gump (1994) quote, “Dumb is as dumb does,” seems to serve a perfect purpose here. Like a boomerang our starkest flaws come back to bite us, revealing us as proud fools. And ironically the only way we can eradicate (or reduce the occurrence of) this phenomenon is to learn of our flaws and ruthlessly address them; first, in acceptance.
But, the short truth of human nature is, we don’t! Hardly anyone notices this rebounding mirror effect and determines to do something about it. Yet, it’s so ridiculously obvious.
One of my fatal flaws is a lack of tolerance of loud people, be it the way they talk, chew, drive etc. Guess where I’m weak? You guessed it—I’m too bold myself at times.
My challenge is to accept this flaw of mine, and to accept that I do have flaws—and that this fact is acceptable. Only then shall my anger toward others with a like flaw be relieved.
We all have this undertaking before us; our proud machinations always backfire, and if this fact bothers us (and it should) we are then best placed and positioned to do something about it, now. That’s the negative slant, so what now of the positive?
The positive slant is a powerful one. This is the chasing of virtue which flushes away the very anger that assuages goodness:
“Virtue is the link of all perfections, the centre of all the felicities.”
Living less foolishly, a little wiser, is a matter of understanding how integral we are to the next man and woman. We’re no better or worse.
What we see most often is us and not the common reality. This is a powerful, saving truth which should motivate us to remain humble.
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.