Accusing someone

If you accuse someone of accusing someone what exactly are you doing?

[For what it's worth, this question sprang to my mind after seeing the mind-boggling film "Manderlay" by Lars von Trier.]

A few months ago, a close friend of mine pointed out to me that I did something wrong. Disgruntled, I objected: “I can’t believe you are blaming me!” — Well, maybe I shouldn’t have.

If I am blaming someone for blaming someone I might as well blame myself of blaming someone for blaming someone. And so on. We better stop here and now.

Epictetus said: “To accuse others for one’s own misfortunes is a sign of want of education.” Indeed, probably many are to agree. Do not accuse someone of accusing someone.

So, next time we hear of dictatorial governments that are intolerant of any opposition, when we hear of racial or religious intolerance, or worse, we shall be good and brave: We will tolerate intolerance. That’s the way we have been taught. Do not accuse others for your own misfortunes. Be not intolerant of intolerance.

How could we ever counter intolerance?

2 Responses to “Accusing someone”

  1. ik says:

    I think an accusation can give birth to itself in the following (non)sense:

    an arbitrary statement by person 1 is heard by person 2 as an accusation (person 1 doesn’t intend to accuse anyone and nobody knows why person 2 might hear an accusation in a statement which he heard as a joke 999 times before. Well, maybe he had a bad coffee this day. Nobody knows even if person 2 really heard an accusation but to person 1 it seems as if). Person 2 now makes an arbitrary statement maybe slightly unnerved or maybe just neutral but to person 1 it sounds unnerved (in fact, person 2 does not intend to accuse anyone. But it might as well just happen to him that he sounds a bit accusing, though he wouldn’t like it). Now, obviously, person 1 does hear an accusation. And ta-taa: the accusation _is_ everywhere though it _was not_ there before, not really, because noone _wanted_ to accuse anyone. But somehow everyone _felt_ accused.

    So, in my eyes, accusation gave birth to itself just by the fact that it was felt though it was not there and then it _was_ everywhere.

  2. ba says:

    How topical –

    We will tolerate intolerance. That’s the way we have been taught. Do not accuse others for your own misfortunes. Be not intolerant of intolerance.

    I am not sure how much of this is reported/discussed in Austria. But english media is busy debatting the ‘danish cartoons’. And there we are, listening to the debate between the moderate head of the islamic council, the member of parliament (female and muslim) and the leader of the radical islamic ‘whatever’ group. There we are listing how they try to put the tag of ‘intolerance’ onto each other.

    And I find it difficult to stay calm and tolerate all this.