Love is a Generous Interpretation of the Actions of Others

I’m in Dublin at my parent’s house. Sunday morning, out for a run before a mother’s day lunch with my family. I love to run the south Dublin country lanes up to the ruined Tully Church.

Tully Church and Graveyard

“Old Tully Church lies abandoned in a now overgrown patch of land in the old Town land of Lehaunestown. It is reputed to be dedicated to St. Bridget, which would date the original structure between the 6th and 9th centuries. The Nave itself dates back to the 13th century. In 1179 the Church was granted to The Priory of The Holy Spirit and remained in use until the mid 1600’s when it subsequently fell into ruin.” from Tully Church, Ireland in Ruins

As I stood in the graveyard of this ancient ruin, I reflected on the lives lived and ended buried in this field.  What did these lives mean?  What did they leave behind?  What can any of us leave behind?

My answer is heavily inspired by the work of Tolstoy: The Death of Ivan Ilyich.  Rather than explain the story, I would recommend you go read it.

The Hedgehog Parable

In the video, I share the parable of the hedgehog, sourced from Schopenhauer.

The “hedgehog in the cold” concept originates in the following parable from the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s Parerga und Paralipomena.

“A number of porcupines huddled together for warmth on a cold day in winter; but, as they began to prick one another with their quills, they were obliged to disperse. However the cold drove them together again, when just the same thing happened. At last, after many turns of huddling and dispersing, they discovered that they would be best off by remaining at a little distance from one another. In the same way the need of society drives the human porcupines together, only to be mutually repelled by the many prickly and disagreeable qualities of their nature. The moderate distance which they at last discover to be the only tolerable condition of intercourse, is the code of politeness and fine manners; and those who transgress it are roughly told—in the English phrase—to keep their distance. By this arrangement the mutual need of warmth is only very moderately satisfied; but then people do not get pricked. A man who has some heat in himself prefers to remain outside, where he will neither prick other people nor get pricked himself.” Schopenhauer

Photo credit: By InfomatiqueOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Author: Conor Neill

Hi, I’m Conor Neill, an Entrepreneur and Teacher at IESE Business School. I speak about Moving People to Action.

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