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Manners and Morals

Manners and Morals

Have no blemish

Sunday, January 15, 2012

By Pendar

This blog is part of the series Not So Ancient Wisdom, based on Baltasar Gracián’s The Pocket Oracle and Art of Prudence

Aphorism # 23:

Have no blemish. They are perfection’s misfortune. Few are without flaws, both moral and physical, and they get worked up over them, though they can be easily rectified. Good sense feels pity when great talents and accomplishments are tarnished by a minor flaw, for it only takes one cloud to eclipse the sun. Malice notices such blots on our reputation and dwells on them. It’s a sign of supreme skill to turn such negatives into positives, as Caesar did when he crowned his natural defect with laurels.

I wonder which is harder, turning negatives into positives or rectifying flaws? Some flaws, like Caesar’s bald head, can’t really be rectified so he was definitely right in choosing the next best thing: crowning it with laurels.

I guess the answer is to pick your battles. Sometimes celebrating a flaw takes a lot less energy than rectifying it. I suppose the bottom line lesson is to find a way to neutralize the grenades that could be hurled at you before anyone attempts it.


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