Lessons for the offended from a long dead philosopher general

By Alec Hogg

When reflecting on the continued saga of Huffington Post and “Shelley Garland”, I was reminded of the very sensible suggestion that when you’re in a hole, just stop digging. Better still, tap into history’s best minds for guidance.

In his notes-to-self written over 2,000 years ago and published as the book “Meditations”, greatest of all Roman emperors philosopher/general Marcus Aurelius offers some wonderful advice to those who have been offended. Aurelius says we have two options. One is to judge and condemn the offender, which automatically gives them space in your head and drives you to seek revenge. The other is to withhold any judgement by accepting the offender’s nature is flawed, and as a result no better could have been expected of them.

In the first instance, additional energy is wasted in working out and effecting retribution. In the second, we accept the real fault was allowing the offender to get to us in the first place. And rather than claiming that eye for an eye, more constructive is pointing them to the error of their ways and help avoid a repeat offence.

There is still so much to be learnt from dead guys. Especially in today’s warp speed world.

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