Enchiridion XVI

When you see anyone weeping for grief, either that his son has gone abroad or that he has suffered in his affairs, take care not to be overcome by the apparent evil, but discriminate and be ready to say, “What hurts this man is not this occurrence itself—for another man might not be hurt by it—but the view he chooses to take of it.” As far as conversation goes, however, do not disdain to accommodate yourself to him and, if need be, to groan with him. Take heed, however, not to groan inwardly, too.

"His son has gone abroad" is a much smaller reason for grief than "his son has died." If the other man were meant to be a Stoic we must assume was meant to be included from the earlier aphorisms; but he is clearly not one, and so the comment is meant to underline that even minor things can upset the unwise.

That makes the cynical ending more appropriate. We are human beings, wise and unwise alike; it can be worthy to sympathize or empathize with the unwise, for the purpose of comforting them and ameliorating their suffering. Yet it is not proper to abandon the course of wisdom in doing so; we must remember that they are behaving foolishly, even as we attempt to ease their foolish suffering. 


james said...

Again a Christian parallel: rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. But also rejoice in the Lord always. To weep with your neighbor's pain but not lose your inner joy has a similar ring--it's more like a gift of part of yourself than being two-faced. Unless, of course, you only care about the show, and not your neighbor.

ymarsakar said...

Given the dna changes, "human" is no longer an accurate term.