If you are angered by a misdeed, then lean toward a man on account
of his rightness. Pass over the misdeed and don't remember it, since the
Creator was silent to you on the first day of your misdeed.
-Ptah Hotep c.2400 BCE
The above axiom comes from the oldest known and "complete" book in the
world. The title of the book is
The Teachings of Ptah Hotep: The
Oldest Book in the World. This small, yet powerful, book of only
fifty-three pages contains thirty-seven axioms that can provide the reader
with a great deal of knowledge as it relates to the affairs of humankind--
knowledge which can be turned into wisdom if the reader allows the
teachings to take root.
In our interactions with one another, today's lessons are
tomorrow's teachers. As we seek to better know ourselves, we can learn a
great deal from others. By examining the lives of others without judging,
we can begin to exhibit growth and maturity in our respective lives.
Often times, it is very difficult to see the good in a person when
we have suffered a misdeed at their hands. Yet, if the opportunity were
taken to examine the incident without placing bounds on it, perhaps we
could place ourselves in their Timberlands and be given a fresh
perspective on the "misdeed."
As the teaching suggests, how many times have you engaged in a
misdeed of which only you and the person experiencing it are aware? More
than on one occasion to be certain. Yet, when we experience such
instances, we are all too ready to chastise the person for what has been
done to us. Yet if we were to be honest with ourselves, we would realize
that we too have done such things. Often with a great deal of
If we could realize and accept that no one is perfect, nor will
they ever be, humankind can begin to create more harmonious relationships.
It is in accepting someone for their good qualities, while assisting them
and ourselves on balancing our weak points, that we gain the greatest
level of respect and admiration.
Given our imperfections, this does not absolve us from the
responsibility of improving ourselves. Improving upon the characteristics
that the Creator has given us should be the goal of all. However, if
those of us who need the improvement go through this phase of life not
looking within, that which is within has the uncanny ability to place our
weaknesses out in front for all the world to see. Often times, much to
Recognizing that progress has never been made without first having
a model by which to compare the results, perhaps we as humankind need to
take a long hard look at ourselves and our prior encounters to improve our
interactions with one another. Present company included. Peace.
Column originally published in Signal (Georgia State University's student newspaper) 11 February 1997