De-Fence! De-Fence!

by Tom Swift

“Don’t be afraid of verbal abuse or criticism. Only the morally weak feel compelled to defend or explain themselves to others. Let the quality of your deeds speak on your behalf. We can’t control the impressions others form about us, and the effort to do so only debases our character. So if anyone should tell you that a particular person has spoken critically of you, don’t bother with excuses or defenses. Just smile and reply, ‘I guess that person doesn’t know about all my other faults. Otherwise he wouldn’t have mentioned only these.’ ” -Epictetus, Manual for Living: A New Interpretation by Sharon Lebell (1994)

A new layer in this gargantuan onion that peeled off this week: to explain yourself is an attempt to control what you cannot.

To explain is to defend. To defend is to react to criticism, real and (most often for you) imagined. To defend yourself is to try to shape the way another views you.

Action is character. Do your best. Let others respond to that as they will. That is all you can do.