26 May 2010

Sad but true

"So human life is nothing but a perpetual illusion. There is nothing but mutual deception and flattery. No one talks about us in our presence as he would in our absence. Human relations are only based upon this mutual deception. Few friendships could survive if everyone knew what his friend said about him behind his back, even though he spoke sincerely and objectively."

Blaise Pascal, Pensées

(And how many of us even make a good faith effort at that last clause?)

12 comments:

Reb. Mary said...

Oof. I hope that nothing in particular in your life occasioned this post...

lisa said...

Totally depressing. But of the same vein:

My nana once told me to pay attention to how people talk about folks not present, that's how they talk about you when you leave the room.

That nana, she had some jems.

Untamed Shrew said...

Then there's people like me. If I'm saying it behind your back, I've already said it to your face. Guess this is why my world is a small one.

Melrose said...

That is really sad and I feel sad for the person that said it. Once when I was troubled by something a friend had said behind my back my husband comforted me by saying, "No one sees you the way Christ sees you, they can't because they too are sinful." Whenever I feel hurt I remember that and comfort myself with confession and absolution. "Human relations are only based upon this mutual deception." No my friend, human relations for the Christian are based on Christ and Him crucified for our forgiveness, on mutual encouragement, rebuke when needed, forgiveness, love, and reconciliation.

They may not see you how God does and in their own embarrassed self loathing of their sins, blurt out yours behind your back, but we press on to bring comfort to those burdened by the law, and esteem one another to good works.

Rebekah said...

Melrose, you should check out the Pensées. Pascal was a devout Christian philosopher and a perceptive commentator on fallen humanity (in addition to being a homeschooled mathematical genius ;) ). If this quotation doesn't resonate with you, it is a sign of your integrity and we could all stand to take a lesson from you.

Gauntlets said...

This quotation gets at one of the many reasons why I wish I could receive the Eucharist every day.

lisa said...

On a different note, I spent dinner-prep time reflecting on how much charity I receive from my friends. I am stupid, they forgive me. I am stupid some more, they forgive me. Etc. It's kind of comforting (in a way) that they titter to themselves and their husbands that I'm so lame. Because, you know, I am lame. And they still love me. That's so great. I mean, think of the hours that go into them trying to find a "nice way" to tell me I was a total jerk without majorly offending me. And then there are the friends who just say it. Bless them too :)

It made me think of that picture recently posted with the overloaded nets and Peter's words, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." But He just keeps keepin' on with us anyway.

Thanks be to God.

Boy, that makes me feel all snuggly inside. I think I'm going to help myself to another brownie.

HappyFox said...

Wow, seriously Blaise? I thought people gave most of that up after their 20's. I'd be all depressed if I didn't have Melrose's and Lisa's posts to read.

Melrose said...

weird, i thought I commented again last night but now its not showing...hopefully it wont show up after i repost!

lisa, right on girl! That is what I was thinking as I wrote my response (your second comment) but couldn't figure out how to put it into words :)

Rebekah: I figured he was someone like that...funny that this isn't the first time I have blatantly disagreed with a quote from someone considered to be a brilliant theologian. sigh. but really? "human life is nothing but a perpetual illusion. There is nothing but mutual deception and flattery." This dude must have had some miserable friends! I'm with lisa, I know my friends talk about me behind my back sometimes (as I do to my friends, usually to my husband) and it reminds me of Luther saying that when satan attacks you with past sins just remind him of the ones he forgot :) Friends are excellent! What a way to keep us in a constant state of repentance and absolution!!

Rebekah said...

I don't think the quotation refers solely to friendships. Human relationships include in-laws, bosses, college roommates, small town postmasters, church trustees, orthodontists, district presidents, bloggers ;) , and plenty of others in the absence of whom we probably don't speak quite as flatteringly.

Anonymous said...

My trusty counter-example to this sort of idealism or perfectionism, nothing against BP, but he is "striking a pose", if that's the phrase I mean, is from Persuasion (oh, and not to say our shortcomings aren't mutually wounding, not at all, just a suggestion of perspective):

Anne smiled and said,

"My idea of good company, Mr Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company."

"You are mistaken," said he gently, "that is not good company; that is the best.

Hope that makes some sense.

Rebekah said...

Anon, you talk pretty. ;)