“Some people are sharp and others dull; some are raised in a better environment, others in worse, the latter, having inferior habits and nurture, will require more by way of proof and careful instruction to master these teachings and to be formed by them — in the same way that bodies in a bad state must be given a great deal of care when perfect health is sought.”MARCUS AURELIUS, LECTURES, 1.1.33-1.3.1-3
The title of today’s entry in The Daily Stoic is “Check Your Privilege”. I think that’s a bit too extreme, so I’m going with “Be Patient With the Disadvantaged” which I feel captures the meaning of today’s quote better.
The idea here is that not everyone has had the opportunities that you’ve had in life, and we should be aware of that, and take it into consideration when we encounter people who struggle to adapt to learned ways of living and thinking (such as stoicism).
Some people had a worse time growing up than you did, of course. They might not have had a home life that was conducive to understanding their emotions or thought processes. Perhaps their upbringing didn’t give them some of the mental and spiritual tools that you have — tools which are necessary to self-educate on how to grow as a human and as an adult.
You had to learn these things too. But some people just haven’t made as much progress as you have. Their learning and growth along the path of life is a little bit slower than yours. You might say they’re truth-impaired, and it’s usually not their fault.
What should we do when encountering people like this? How should we act? (Hint: it’s not with scorn, even though that’s the easy answer.)
We have to dig deep, and treat them with grace. Being aware of the privileges and advantages we’ve had in life will help us be patient when it matters most — and to the people who need it most, who haven’t had those advantages.