How To Stop Being Angry at People You Think Are Idiots

November 03, 2006

As found in "Are You Ready to Succeed", by Srikumar S. Rao:

He was a Lord of the Realm, dignified, aristocratic, and imbued with noblesse oblige. He would have lunch at his club every day and then take a brisk constitutional [a walk]. His assistant would tag along and he would issue instructions as they walked. Much business was usually accomplished.

He would pass a pandhandler [beggar] every day at the same corner and would drop ten shillings into his hat. That was a goodly sum in those days, but the recipient showed no gratitude. He was rude, ungracious, frequently inebriated. Sometimes he was even vituperative.

One day, when the tramp was even more disagreeable than usual, the assistant could not contain himself. "Your Lordship, why do you continue to give money to such an undeserving hobo?" [homeless man]

"What would you do if you were in my position?" the Lord queried back.

"I would tell him what he could do with himself," said the assistant with feeling.

"There was a time I did that," assented the Lord. "But then I realised what I was doing. It is my nature to help those not as fortunate as myself. When I brushed him off in anger because of his surliness, I was letting him dictate how I would behave. And I will not let a wine-sotted, foul-mouthed, unwashed vagrant decide my behaviour."

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