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The Conquest of Happiness(松下彰良・訳)

Back Next  Part I(Causes of Unhappiness), Chap.8:Persecution Mania   Contents(総目次)
* 右上イラスト出典:B. Russell's The Good Citizen's Alphabet, 1953.


One of the most universal forms of irrationality is the attitude taken by practically everybody towards malicious gossip. Very few people can resist saying malicious things about their acquaintances, and even on occasion about their friends; yet when people hear that anything has been said against themselves, they are filled with indignant amazement. It has apparently never occurred to them that, just as they gossip about everyone else, so everyone else gossips about them. This is a mild form of the attitude which, when exaggerated, leads on to persecution mania. We expect everybody else to feel towards us that tender love and that profound respect which we feel towards ourselves. It does not occur to us that we cannot expect others to think better of us than we think of them and the reason this does not occur to us is that our own merits are great and obvious, whereas those of others, if they exist at all, are only visible to a very charitable eye. When you hear that so-and-so has said something horrid about you, you remember the ninety-nine times when you have refrained from uttering the most just and well-deserved criticism of him, and forget the hundredth time when in an unguarded moment you have declared what you believe to be the truth about him. Is this the reward, you feel, for all your long forbearance? Yet from his point of view your conduct appears exactly what his appears to you; he knows nothing of the times when you have not spoken, he knows only of the hundredth time when you did speak. If we were all given by magic the power to read each other's thoughts I suppose the first effect would be that almost all friendships would be dissolved; the second effect, however, might be excellent, for a world without any friends would be felt to be intolerable, and we should learn to like each other without needing a veil of illusion to conceal from ourselves that we did not think each other absolutely perfect. We know that our friends have their faults, and yet are on the whole agreeable people whom we like. We find it, however, intolerable that they should have the same attitude towards us. We expect them to think that, unlike the rest of mankind, we have no faults. When we are compelled to admit that we have faults, we take this obvious fact far too seriously. Nobody should expect to be prefect, or be unduly troubled by the fact that he is not.