[Temple, Outer Court]George Herbert: "The Church-porch"

Day 27: Morning


          Be calm in arguing: for fiercenesse makes

          Errour a fault, and truth discourtesie.

          Why should I feel another mans mistakes

          More then his sicknesses or povertie?

               In love I should: but anger is not love,

               Nor wisdome neither: therefore gently move.

     Be calm when arguing, because fierceness makes an error a fault, and [it makes] truth discourtesy. Why should I feel another man's mistakes more than his sicknesses or poverty? In love I should [feel his mistakes as I would his sickness or his poverty]; but anger is not love, nor wisdom neither; therefore, gently move.

     How can you win an argument without getting angry? How can you impress the facts upon someone without raising your voice and using strong gestures? We accept as absolute that temper, anger and volume will accomplish what reason, facts and kindness will not do. Anger is not love, and force is not wisdom. These can not replace kindness and discretion, and they do not effect agreement more convincing than the discussion. The opposite is true. Fierceness in the discussion makes any error a fault and even the truth amplified becomes an offence to those involved. Grinding your opponent with your mistake or slapping him with the truth are equally inappropriate [counter productive]. We accept sickness, infirmity, poverty and other deficits as reasons for misunderstanding. We find it harder to allow for error and opinion. We are not offended by someone's illness or economic situation, but we are insulted by inaccuracies and feelings.

     When we let the facts speak for themselves, we encourage the truth. We allow it to surface and compare opinions and feelings, allowing them to stand in the shadow of the facts. Love moves with wisdom and gently, without anger.

"I do not understand this stanza." S. T. Coleridge. "Notes on The Temple and The Synagogue," in The Temple of George Herbert. (Pickering: London, 1838). p. 355.

© 1997 J. R. Arner

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