Practical Stoicism: Reconsider the Wrong

Submitted by c0c0c0 on Sat, 01/21/2017 - 15:08

Here's another rewrite. The original was okay, but it was very short and didn't, IMHO, truly press home the point. Or at least my take on the point: That we are really not well positioned to even know when another has done wrong. And it's not in anyone's best interests for us to act like we are.


If any man has done wrong, the harm is his own. But perhaps he has not done wrong. (Marcus Aurelius - Meditations IX.38)

When faced with an impression of wrongdoing, consider the possibility that it’s just your perspective that makes it appear so. What if there is more to the situation than is initially apparent? What if there are extenuating circumstances?

It is important to remember that everyone acts from the facts and circumstances presented to them by fate. From their vantage, their acts seem to be rational, even imperative. Just because it looks different from yours does not mean that they should have acted differently.

You are never privy to the full story. You cannot know the entirety of another's motivations. You don't know his burdens, his fears, his pain,

Steven Covey tells a story in his "7 Habits" series about a man who entered a subway car with a pack of unruly children. They were yelling back and forth, throwing things, even grabbing people's papers, while the father just stared off into the distance. Covey was so disturbed by his apparent disinterest in controlling his children, and so irritated by their behavior, he was compelled to confront the man and bring it to his attention. The man admitted his failure, noting that their mother had just died an hour ago and no one knew quite what to do with themselves.

Covey’s “impression of wrongdoing” was immediately adjusted.

You cannot walk another's path. You are in no position to judge his fault. Rather than wasting energy on being offended and scandalized, consider instead your own imperfections. These, at least, are not hidden from you.

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