de la Bédoyère’s Maxims, No. 3

Many great changes in society have only come about because they were introduced by extremists and fanatics, repudiated by those they claimed to represent.

To use considerate language is only good manners and a sign of sensitivity to others’ feelings. Distinguish this from political correctness whose historical origins lie in a tactic to manipulate society.

A group defines itself as much by the way it is hated, as by the way it is loved. So for countries, and for races, and for individuals

Those who have suffered most from injustice are the first to inflict the same injustice on others.

The brain has two reference points – one for the judgment of others’ behaviour and one for the judgment of our own.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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6 Responses to de la Bédoyère’s Maxims, No. 3

  1. Iona says:

    Not a comment on any of the above, but a new maxim:

    Dawkins? – Oh, he’s just a reductionist.

  2. Blue says:

    Now that Iona has mentioned the “D” word, I look at the maxim “A group defines itself as much by the way it is hated…” I wonder whether we shouldn’t be selling his book at street corners, and asking him to bring on the lions.

    Meanhwile I think I’ll become a hermit.

  3. Irene says:

    Didn’t Machiavelli say something similar? Perhaps the western attacks on the ‘axis of evil’ have done a great deal to harden up the opposition. And don’t the general dislike of the French (oops! sorry, Quentin) and their dislike of us make for patriotism in each of the countries?

  4. Frank says:

    Those who have suffered most from injustice…

    There must be many counter-examples; the first that springs to mind is a Grand Old Man who has recently celebrated his 90th birthday in London.

    Quentin is proposing a law of the jungle; but 2000 years of the precept:’Do good to those who hate you and persecute you’ will also have left its mark on succeeding generations

  5. ‘Those who have suffered most from injustice are the first to inflict the same injustice on others.’

    The very fact that we extol Nelson Mandela for his virtue in overcoming his past sufferings and using them constructively is an indication that we recognise that such heroic qualities are rare.

    Of course a maxim is a generalisation whose purpose it to provoke. But I fear that even a brief survey of history (take Zimbabwe for instance – where colonial repression has been replaced by internal repression, or the abused child who becomes an abusing parent) to see that there is too much truth in it to be comfortable.

  6. Frank says:

    That’s all true – but we must beware of only reading bad news. The papers are full of it: knife crimes, serial adultery, child abuse and all the rest. That is what sells papers. But we all know of, and encounter, unsung heroes of daily life every day; I do in my parish; at the special school my daughter attends; at our local shop. Life is full of injustice in one form or another – and so many people shoulder it quietly and do not make a fuss or retaliate. But they will never make headlines.

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