Select Page

“… what grounds do we have for being angry with anyone? We use lables like ‘thief’ and ‘robber’ in connection with them, but what do those words mean? They merely signify that people are confused about what is good and what is bad. So should we be angry with them, or should we pity them instead. Show them where they go wrong and you will find that they’ll reform. but unless they see it, they are stuck with nothing better than their usual opinion as their practical guide.

‘Well shouldn’t we do away with thieves and degenerates?’ Try putting the question this way: Shouldn’t we rid ourselves of people deceived about what’s most important, people who are blind – not in their faculty of vision, their ability to distinguish white from black – but in the moral capacity to distinguish good from bad? Put it that way and you will realize how inhumane your position is. It is as if you were to say, ‘Shouldn’t this blind man, and this deaf man, be executed?’

If you must be affected by other people’s misfortunes, show them pity instead of contempt. Drop this readiness to hate and take offence.

We get angry because we put too high a premium on things that they can steal.”
– Epictetus, Discourses, c. 108 AD