Maxim Monday: Find fault with no one

Uh-oh.

How is this maxim possible? Everybody has faults and everyone messes up from time to time. How are we supposed to not find faults with others?

I actually tried to look this one up. I found a little commentary by Epictetus in The Enchiridion. It seems to be about not blaming others for things that we can control and not putting our responsibilities on those people or situations that we can’t control. In a way, this maxim is a reminder to take responsibility for ourselves.

Some other Pagan bloggers have approached this maxim from the point of view of not stirring up strife in our communities, by blaming and finger-pointing. Sure, no one is perfect and people screw up, but publicly name calling and tearing other people down is never the way forward.

I might go so far as to say that this maxim is about minding our own business and trying our best to live in harmony and community with everyone. Taking responsibility for only ourselves, communicating clearly and letting others have their own actions/feelings/responses and letting them have ownership of those things are ways to avoid finding fault with others. I suppose.

I admit, this maxim is a perplexing one for me. Anyone else have some insight into this one?

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9 responses to “Maxim Monday: Find fault with no one

  1. I have’t talked about this one yet, since I’m skipping around alot…but I look at it with the perspective of blame. Particularly in light of the adage that “when you point a finger at someone else, there are three pointing back at you”. I think a lot of the problem with “fault” is that it is used as a way to escape responsibility…OUR responsibility and even our own complicity. If we fault someone else, we can negate our agency…and by doing that, we can opt out of our own faults. I don’t think it is wrong to criticize the public actions or beliefs of people and group, but I think it is wrong to go seeking unrelated blame for them, if that makes sense? I consider it a reminder that we are not without our own faults, and that (unless we are willing to examine them with equal scrutiny in ourselves–and even then, we need to do so with compassion) we shouldn’t be picking at those we see in others.

  2. I read it as not picking at people mentally. Spending mental bandwidth finding fault with people (“ugh, so-and-so is so annoying, Mr. Blah wears stupid clothes,” etc) is a waste of time and energy in most cases. Yes, people have flaws, but mentally castigating them for them isn’t helpful. That’s how I look at it, anyway.

    I definitely agree about it being difficult! But I read it as a version of “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” which I’ve always liked.

  3. It could be stretched to mean faults as in imperfections. Will acceptance of the self as whole, as the truest aspect of that person, guard against nit picking things we don’t like? Maybe I’m going off on a tangent here.

    • I don’t think that’s a tangent! This particular maxim feels kinda vague. But I think it is always worthwhile to consider virtues, to ponder them and decide what we really think.

  4. For me, it’s about encouragement. People usually know their own faults, but don’t know their strengths so well, the things they do well. Rudolph Dreikurs said: “Being human does not mean to be right, does not mean to be perfect. To be human means to be useful, to make contributions – not for oneself, but for others – to take what there is and to make the best of it.” Why spend energy pointing out the obvious faults when we could be creating a more useful community by having “the courage to be imperfect” (R Dreikurs).

      • Lovely, Niki. It is one of the most helpful ideas I have met in my life, it has really helped me and it really helps some of my clients. I’d love to read your ruminations on it! Adler saw perfectionism as a neurosis, which is an interesting thought as we are so pushed by the culture of “success” – being the best at work, in school, in every way….. xxxx

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