An Inspirational Story – advanced level

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"At first sight it is curious that our own offences should seem to us so much less heinous than the offences of others. I suppose the reason is that we know all the circumstances that have occasioned them and so manage to excuse in ourselves what we cannot excuse in others. We turn our attention away from our own defects, and when we are forced by untoward events to consider them find it easy to condone them. For all I know we are right to do this; they are part of us and we must accept the good and the bad in ourselves together. But when we come to judge others it is not by ourselves as we really are that we judge them, but by an image that we have formed of ourselves from which we have left out everything that offends our vanity or would discredit us in the eyes of the world. To take a trivial instance: how scornful we are when we catch someone out telling a lie; but who can say that he has never told not one, but a hundred? We are shocked when we discover that great men were weak and petty, dishonest or selfish, sexually vicious, vain or intemperate; and many people think it’s disgraceful to disclose to the public its heroes' failings. There is not much to choose between men. They are all a hotchpotch of greatness and littleness, of virtue and vice, of nobility and baseness. Some have more strength of character, or more opportunity, and so in one direction or another give their instincts freer play, but potentially they are the same. For my part I do not think I am any better or any worse than most people, but I know that if I set down every action in my life and every thought that has crossed my mind the world would consider me a monster of depravity." William Somerset Maugham


“The story tells us to be more cautious when we look at others. To realize that each person is an individual, with their own individual experiences. We should not judge them by some ideal image we have of ourselves. We should be generous and understanding with them, as we are with ourselves. It also reminds us that we are human, with many flaws and mistakes. Too often, people bury and hide their humanity, as if they were gods or saints. This causes others to feel shame and guilt for their feelings and thoughts, when they should not. Unfortunately or maybe not, we cannot control our every thought and feeling, not can we control our every step or action. The important thing is that we grow and learn. By doing so, we can overcome the negative, correct and anticipate our mistakes, nourish the good thoughts and feelings, embrace our humanity.”  - wise words from my friend Terry


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