…and now for Rule 3 from the Nine rules:
“Third, that if men do rightly what they do, we ought not to be displeased; but if they do not right, it is plain that they do so involuntarily and in ignorance. For as every soul is unwillingly deprived of the truth, so also is it unwillingly deprived of the power of behaving to each man according to his deserts. Accordingly men are pained when they are called unjust, ungrateful, and greedy, and in a word wrong-doers to their neighbours.” The Meditations Chapter 11
There are excerpts from The Meditations that are pure genius in their simplicity, and with wisdom that cuts to the chase. This isn’t one of them. I read and read it, over and over, and it was difficult to get to the heart of the matter in this #3.
Here is what I came up with:
Whether or not you approve of another’s actions, you should consider why they did it, and if they did it with good intentions and proper motivation. If their intentions are noble, then you should be content with their actions. If it turns out that a person is acting unjustly, then they are acting out of ignorance. So knowing these things, no action should upset you personally. How often have you acted wrongly because you were uninformed, impatient, greedy, or you just weren’t thinking it through?
I can learn from my own awareness of my actions, but I can also learn by examining the actions of others. I teach a leadership course, and often in the discussions, we talk about how we can learn about what good leadership is by experiencing bad leadership. Similarly, I can learn about what is right action, speech, thought, or livelihood by observing the actions of others.
In short, I can learn from both bad and good actions of myself and others and understanding brings wisdom, and love of wisdom can show me “how to live.”