As Plato said, every soul is deprived of truth against its will. The same holds true for justice, self-control, goodwill to others, and every similar virtue. It’s essential to constantly keep this in your mind, for it will make you more gentle to all.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 7.63
Is being Genteel or having Gentility a Virtue? Maybe. Likely not, though… as the word comes from the same root from which “gentry” comes, was for most of its existence tied to being high-born and noble, AND it’s original Latin meaning had to do with being in the same clan or subgroup. Pretty EXclusive and not terribly INclusive.
Regardless, in the modern sense it carries a different meaning.
I’ve always aspired to be gentle… an Atticus Finch (my opinion) kind of gentle though, if you know what I mean: Consciously not generating harm in the world, and where he could, working to change the systems that would inherently cause harm. Without raised voice, he could gently forgive passing ignorance, as well as hold a quiet, sentinel-like boundary against deep-rooted stupidity. Perhaps he was able to do those things because of an adherence to wise Marcus’ words above in his own life.
Back to forgiveness…
As US residents, it’s likely we’re familiar with the tale of Joshua bar Josef (Jesus to his friends). It doesn’t matter where or when you came to his stories, or if you’re a faithful follower of Christianity… because we probably know the story of “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) If not, here’s the gist: Hanging from cross as soldiers gambled for what few possessions he had, Jesus asked his God to forgive these ignorant beings for their lack of kindness. Forgiveness is built into Christianity, for sure, but not necessarily US Cultural Christianity.
What we’re likely less-familiar with as US residents is the fact that Plato was preaching and teaching the same message of forgiveness centuries before Jesus, and Marcus Aurelius echoed them almost 200 years after the crucifixion.
Here’s the take-away: Forgive those who are deprived of truth, the ignorant, because if they knew better, they wouldn’t do what they do…
… and don’t confuse ignorance with stupidity.
(See y’all tomorrow)