The Daily Stoic for August 31st, “Consider Your Failings Too”.
“Whenever you take offense at someone’s wrongdoing, immediately turn to your own similar failings, such as seeing money as good, or pleasure, or a little fame—whatever form it takes. By thinking on this, you’ll quickly forget your anger, considering also what compels them—for what else could they do? Or, if you are able, remove their compulsion.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 10.30
I don’t think the teaching of today’s stoic is something specifically related to stoicism, but to common sense. Don’t judge others, because you don’t know what they are going through, and you are not perfect in the first place.
Only, it’s easy to forget our common sense in some situations.
Consider Your Failings Too
Through the stoic journey, you learn a lot. There’s some resistance at first. Some concepts just clash with your preconceived ideas. I am still struggling with some stoic teachings myself.
But one of the ones that I have clear is that I am not perfect myself. Hence, who am I to judge others?
Of course, that does not mean letting others bully or abuse you. The line should be clear, and you should be careful and not trust blindly. But we need to understand that we all have our motivations, biases, and backgrounds. Nobody thinks of themselves as evil persons. We all think we are doing the right thing. And sometimes, we just don’t have the right information or act out of angst, or anger, or desperation.
While that might not be an excuse, it helps you understand others. Even when they mess with us. Think about you, and you’ll probably remember a situation where you acted similarly with another person. What makes you better than this other person?
So if some days ago, the stoic teaching was “Trust, but Verify”, today’s teaching may be “Judge, but try to understand”.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Consider Your Failings Too”, reminds us that we are all humans, and we do mistakes. So when judging others, remember that you are not perfect either.