13 January 2010

I wasn't consulted at the time of the creation of the world

"My dear," he said to me once, not at home, but one time in the street, after a long conversation; I was seeing him off. "My friend, to love people as they are is impossible. And yet one must. And therefore do good to them, clenching your feelings, holding your nose, and shutting your eyes (this last is necessary). Endure evil from them, not getting angry with them if possible, 'remembering that you, too, are a human being.' Naturally, you're in a position to be severe with them, if it's been granted to you to be a little bit smarter than the average. People are mean by nature and love to love out of fear; don't give in to such love and don't cease to despise it. Somewhere in the Koran, Allah bids the prophet to look upon the 'recalcitrant' as mice, to do them good and pass by—somewhat arrogant, but right. Know how to despise them even when they're good, for most often it's just here that they're nasty. Oh, my dear, I'm judging by myself in saying that! He who is only a little bit better than stupid cannot live and not despise himself—whether he's honest or dishonest makes no difference. To love one's neighbor and not to despise him is impossible. In my opinion, man is created with a physical inability to love his neighbor. There's some mistake in words here, from the very beginning, and 'love for mankind' should be understood as just for that mankind which you yourself have created in your soul (in other words, you've created your own self and the love for yourself), and which therefore will never exist in reality."
  "Never exist?"
  "My friend, I agree that this would be rather stupid, but here the blame isn't mine; and since I wasn't consulted at the time of the creation of the world, I reserve for myself the right to have my own opinion of it."

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Adolescent (2003: 213-14)