Posts tagged ‘Ian MacLaren’

March 31, 2011

Be Kind…

Before it was shut down, the motto of a blog I liked to visit was the following quote. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. On the blog it was attributed to Plato. I liked it. I could use being reminded not to jump down people’s throats, being generous in interpreting what they say, hearing not only what they utter, but where they are coming from.
I also liked it because it was Plato’s. The stern and strict father of philosophy ultimately had a soft heart, understanding that people can have different mind frames than his own…errr, that doesn’t sound right. Plato’s the guy who wanted to kick poets and artist out of the ideal Republic because they might distract people from what is real; how would he have been the one to say something so inclusive? Sounds fishy.

Not to worry. The Gods of the interwebs have provided us with Quote Investigator. There we are told (through a quote) that “this sounds anachronistic for Plato by almost 2500 years.” Oops. Other than Plato, the quote is sometimes attributed to Philo of Alexandria and (the always popular) Anonymous.
Ok, so where does the quote come from? The diligent people who write their pages have gone back through time, searching when the quote appears. 1995, 1984, 1965, 1957, 1947, 1932…
(…keep going…)
In the Boston, Massachusetts periodical, Zion’s Herald of December 25th, 1897, they found: “IAN MACLAREN,” along with other celebrities, was asked to send a Christmas message to an influential religious weekly in England. He responded by sending the short but striking sentence: “Be pitiful, for every man is fighting a hard battle.” No message is more needed in our days of stress and storm, of selfish striving and merciless competition.

Pitiful here is in the older, no longer used sense of compassionate, merciful, tender, hence it turns into ‘Be kind…’. Ian MacLaren was the pseudonym for Rev. John Watson, a Scottish author and Theologian. Not quite Plato…still good, though.