Friday, June 14, 2013

Today's Maxwell Quote

From For the Power Is in Them (1970), 8–‎9:
That others may be so offended is not reason for us to reduce such righteousness as we have, of course, but awareness of this irony is a reminder for us to be sensitive to the needs and feelings of others who can be greatly inflamed with resentment. The tale of Aristides the Just is ancient Greece is another reminder of this paradox.

Aristides encountered an illiterate citizen who was struggling to make out his ostrakon (the periodic way in which ancient Greeks could, with sufficient "votes," exile an offending countryman). When Aristides inquired as to whether or not he could help this man mark his ostrakon, the man said yes and asked, not knowing who his helper was, to have the name of Aristides put on the "ballot" as deserving of ostracism. Aristides, wisely seeking feedback, still did not identify himself but asked why the man wished this fate upon Aristides. The man said it was because he had grown tired of hearing incessantly how noble and how just Aristides was. There was, apparently, an intrinsic resentment of Aristides' image of nobility.

It is not necessary to be able to account for, or to analyze, all the psychological variables involved in such situations in order to know that in human affairs the "Aristides factor" often does operate.