Pablo Picasso, 1904, The Frugal Repast. The Met. © 2018 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Circumstance, Meaning, Virtue

A Policy of Appeasement

“Blessed is he, who has learned to bear what he cannot change, and to give up with dignity, what he cannot save.” We take on the responsibility of appeasing someone’s feelings, foolishly attempting to control something we can’t. Quotes from Schiller & Huxley.

William Merritt Chase, c.1887, Young Woman Before a Mirror
Circumstance, Meaning, Virtue

Listening to Low Self-Esteem

Jane Austen in 1814 said; “We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be”. Instead of believing that feelings of low self-esteem must be cast away immediately, first hear what they have to say.

Léon Spilliaert, 1907, Silhouet van de schilder
Circumstance, Meaning, Virtue

Willing to Understand

Meister Eckhart (1260-1328) is quoted as saying “A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart. We know so many things, but we don’t know ourselves! Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox’s or bear’s, cover the soul. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there.”

Edvard Munch, 1896, Separation
Circumstance, Virtue

The Moment Before We React

When we are mistreated, most of us react, and reactions are emotional. We get angry, upset and we grasp the wrongful treatment with both hands, like a crab might his dinner.

Coloured lithograph, 1870, after J. Bakewell, 1771.
Circumstance, Meaning, Virtue

Turning Against the Ideal

We look up at the ideal we fall so short of, embittered. If only that target wasn’t so high, or better again, if it didn’t exist at all, we wouldn’t appear so dreadful! In doing so, we bring the heavens crashing down to join us in the slums. Now we are level.

Malnazar and Aghap'ir, 1637 - 1638, David in Prayer
Virtue

The Trouble with Compassion

Like handing someone a glass of water while they are engulfed in flames, it does very little. The danger is that we are only really fulfilling our own need or want to be ‘compassionate’ people, in this vain sense.

Gustave Dore, 1855-1861, Dante’s The Divine Comedy-Inferno, Canto XXXIV
Meaning, Virtue

Self-Deception: A Trip to the Underworld (2/3)

We don’t want to venture down there and face the damage we have caused. The alternative however, is more devastation every time the truth comes knocking; and it will keep coming. So, we muster every ounce of courage we have left, open the hatch door, and delve underground.

John Singer Sargent, 1919, Synagogue, Boston Public Library
Meaning, Virtue

Self-Deception- A Fragile Fantasy (1/3)

Even though we may think the ‘reality’ we have built is solid, when it holds no truth, it is under constant danger of collapsing. One cracked brick is no big deal, but if every brick we use is cracked, we end up with a completely unstable structure.

Carlo Crivelli, 1486, 'The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius'
Circumstance, Meaning

What Does Life Expect of Us?

The old moral philosophers called it the ‘finis ultimus’ (utmost aim) or ‘summum bonum’ (greatest good). The utmost to aim for in terms of our character, for those around us and our society.