The Happy Life Is No Blind Trust, or: No Man Can Go Wrong to His Own Hurt Only
I read, among other things, Seneca’s On the Happy Life last week. Here’s an excerpt of a passage I particularly liked:
Nothing, therefore, needs to be more emphasized than the warning that we should not, like sheep, follow the lead of the throng in front of us, travelling, thus, the way that all go and not the way that we ought to go. Yet nothing involves us in greater trouble than the fact that we adapt ourselves to common report in the belief that the best things are those that have met with great approval, – the fact that, having so many to follow, we live after the rule, not of reason, but of imitation.
The result of this is that people are piled high, one above another, as they rush to destruction. And just as it happens that in a great crush of humanity, when the people push against each other, no one can fall down without drawing along another, and those that are in front cause destruction to those behind – this same thing, You may see happening everywhere in life.
No man can go wrong to his own hurt only, but he will be both the cause and the sponsor of another’s wrongdoing. For it is dangerous to attach one’s self to the crowd in front, and so long as each one of us is more willing to trust another than to judge for himself, we never show any judgement in the matter of living, but always a blind trust, and a mistake that has been passed on from hand to hand finally involves us and works our destruction.