X. Pride and egocentrism

83.  Arrogance I? 
84.  Escaping from oneself
85.  The spiral of the grudge
86.  The sense of fault
87.  The risk of the self-deception
88.  The control of the wrath
89.  The satisfaction of the desires
90.  A new code

83.  Proud I? 

A writer goes walking through the street and he meets a friend.  They greet each other and they begin to chat.  During more than half an hour, the writer speaks his friend about himself, without stopping either an instant.  Suddenly he stops a moment, has a pause and says:  "Good, already we have spoken enough of me.  Now we speak of you:  What do you think about my last novel?" 

This is a funny example of conceited attitude, of a quite simple vanity.  In fact, the majority of the vices are also quite simple.  But, on the other hand, the pride uses to declare under quite more complex forms than those of that fatuous writer.  The pride tends to be presented in a twisted form; it sneaks through the most surprising cracks of the man's life, under extremely diverse appearances.  The pride knows well that, if it shows its face, its aspect is revolting, and therefore one of its more habitual strategies is to hide its face, to be in disguise.  It enters secretly inside another apparently positive attitude, which always remains contaminated. 

Sometimes it disguises of wisdom, of what we would be able to call as an "intellectual pride" that is based on an appearance of severity that is not another thing that arrogant pride. 

Other times it disguises of coherence, and does the people to change their principles instead of daring to change their immoral conduct.  As they do not live like they think, they finish thinking as they live.  The pride impedes them to see that the coherence in the error never can transform the evil into the good. 

Also it can be disguised as a strong eagerness to do justice, when, in the bottom, what moves them is a feeling of spite and of revenge.  The hate has put inside them the hatred inside and, instead of doing an effort in order to forgive; they intend to calm their anxiety with revenge and resentment. 

There are occasions in which the pride is disguised of eagerness to defend the truth, of an arrogant and contracted orthodoxy, which subjugates to the others; or of an eagerness to manifest it all, to judge it all and to want to have firm opinion above all.  All those attitudes use to have their origin in that simple and foolish pride of whom believes to be the exclusive possessor of the truth.  Instead of serving really to the truth, they are served of it -of a shadow of it-, and they finish being puppets of their own vanity, of their eagerness to opposite or to be considered a winner in any discussion. 

At times it disguises itself of an apparent spirit of service, that seems at first sight very self-sacrificing, and that even perhaps it is, but that hides a curious and resentful victimism.  They are those that do the things, but with air of victim ("I am the unique one that does something"), or regretting of what do the others ("see these on the other hand …"). 

It can also be disguised of generosity, of that ostentatious generosity that helps humiliating, looking down one's nose at the others, underestimating.  Or it disguises itself of eagerness to teach or eagerness to advise, typical of people plenty of sufficiency, that are put to itself as an example, that speak in paternalistic tone, with air of superiority.  Or it covers itself of air of dignity, when it is not another thing that susceptibility, to feel offended by foolishnesses, by unreal or by groundless jealousy. 

Is that then that the pride is behind all?  At least we know that it will try to be.  The same as the perfect and total health doesn't exist; we can neither eliminate completely the pride.  But we can detect it and gain advantage. 

And how to detect it, if it hides under so many appearances?  The pride will many times deceive us, and we will not see its face, hidden of diverse ways, but many times we do see it clearly.  If we are capable of being receptive, of listening at the constructive criticism, it will be for us much easier to unmask it. 

The problem is that one has to be humble to accept the criticism.  The pride uses to self armor-plating in a vicious circle of satisfied egocentrism, and it doesn't permits anybody to call it for its true name.  When it becomes strong doing so, the defenselessness is such that the simplest manifestations of the pride go growing: the sickly sensitivity, the continuous speaking about one self, the arrogant and conceited attitudes, the vanity and affectation in the gestures and in the way of speaking, the deep decline when perceiving the own weaknesses, etc. 
One must break that vicious circle.  To gain ground to the pride is of vital importance to have a healthy psychology, for maintaining a cordial relation with the people, to not feel offended by foolishnesses, to not harm the others, for almost everything.  Therefore one must fear about the pride, to fight seriously against it.  It is a fight that takes the impulse from the recognition of the error.  An always difficult knowledge, because the error is disguised of thousands of ways, and even takes forces of its apparent routs, but it is possible the knowledge of it, if there is a pledge by our side and we seek a little aid in the others. 

84. To escape from oneself

 "The Gentleman of the Oxidized Armor" is a surprising best-seller of Robert Fisher that has been sold for millions in the United States and that in Spain has had more than forty editions.  It is a story of adult fantasy, whose protagonist is an exemplary medieval gentleman that, "when he was not fighting in a battle, killing dragons or rescuing damsels, he was busy probing his armor and admiring its shine".  The success of the book consists in that it symbolizes our ascent by the mountain of the life and does certain observations on the human conduct. 

Our gentleman was lover to such an extent of his armor that he began to wear it to have dinner and, often, to sleep.  After a time, he did not longer have the inconvenience to remove it for nothing. 

His woman was each time more fed of being not able to see the face of her husband and to sleep badly because of the metallic noise of the armor. 

The situation came to be so unsustainable for the unhappy family that our gentleman decided finally to remove the armor.  It is then when he discovers that, after so much time locked in it, it is totally blocked and he cannot remove it from him.  He goes then in search of the magician Merlin that shows him a steep and narrow path as the only solution to be freed of that curious confinement.  He decides to take that path immediately, because he realizes that, if he doesn't throw it soon, he may change soon his opinion. 

He has to surpass diverse tests.  In one of them he verifies that he had barely gained the affection of his son, and that causes him to cry bitterly.  The surprise arrives the following morning, when he sees that the armor has become oxidized as a result of the tears and part of it has been disengaged and has fallen.  His crying had begun to free him. 

Further on, with occasion of other tries, he notices that during years he had not wanted to admit the things that he did badly.  He had preferred always to blame to the others.  He had behaved in an ungrateful way with his woman and with his son.  He had been very unjust.  The tears slipped by their cheeks each time with more profusion.  He needed his woman and his son, but he barely had loved them.  In the bottom, he self evaluated very badly and that caused him to behave also badly, with the aim to gain thus the consideration of the others, and therefore he turned out to be proud and arrogant.  He had worn an invisible armor between him and his true way to be, and it was imprisoning him.  An armor that "has been there during so much time -told him Merlin- that at the end had become visible and permanent". 

He remembered all the things of his life when he had blamed his mother, his father, his teachers, his woman, his son and his friends and to all the others.  For the first time in many years, he contemplated his life with clarity, without judging and without excuses.  In that instant, he accepted all his responsibility.  From that moment, he would never blame anymore to nothing neither to nobody about their own errors.  The recognition that he was the cause of his problems, and not the victim, gave him a new sensation of power and control.  He was no longer afraid.  An unknown sensation of calm came unexpectedly to him.  "Almost I die for the tears that I hadn't spill yet", he thought. 

All we use to put barriers in our life, in front of the others, and a day we realize that we are trapped after those barriers and turns out to be difficult for us to abandon them.  Therefore, the wisdom consists, in good measure, in knowing the sufficient about oneself as to know when and how one has been trapped.  Otherwise, the power and the control will be weaker day after day, and the ability to be deceived, will become stronger day by day.  We will seek the fault in the others, feeding a pride that little will be able to help us, and perhaps we will fight against all and everybody in order not to fight against ourselves. 

Our gentleman had to remove the armor to face really the truth on his life.  They had said it to him many times, but he had always rejected that idea as an offense, taking the truth as an insult.  And while he did not recognize his errors and cried for them, he did not manage to get freed of the retreat to which he had been self submitting. 

Finding loopholes when one does not want to look inside is the easiest thing in the world.  There always are exterior blames and it is needed a lot of courage to accept that the responsibility is ours.  But that is the only way to advance, although it is always an uphill travel.  As the protagonist of that Susanna Tamaro's novel said: "each time that, when you grow up, you want to convert the wrong things into true things, you must recall that the first revolution that one must carry out is inside one self, the first one and the most important one.  To fight for an idea without having an idea of oneself is one of the most dangerous things than can be done". 

85.  The spiral of the grudge

Stefan Zweig tells in his biography the sad and fleeting history of Ernst Lissauer, a German writer of the times of the First World War. 

Lissauer was a man of enormous erudition.  Nobody dominated better the German lyric than him.  Also he was a deep expert about the music and possessed a great talent for the art.  When the war exploded, he wanted to be enlisted as volunteer but he was not admitted due to his age and to his lack of health.  In the middle of that patriotic fervor against the countries that now were enemies, he was quickly dragged by the atmosphere of military exaltation favored from the machinery of publicity of the Berlin's Wilhelmstrasse.  The feeling that the English were the main cause of that war was expressed by Lissauer in the famous "Song of hatred to England", a poem in fourteen expressive, concise, and hard verses that elevated the hatred toward that country to the condition of an oath of eternal animosity.  Those verses fell like a bomb in an ammunition dump.  Soon became evident the facility to provoke with the hatred to a whole country.  The poem traveled through Germany being on everyone's lips. The emperor granted Lissauer with the cross of the Red Eagle, all the newspapers published it. It was represented in the theaters, the teachers rode it to the children in the schools, the officials sent the soldiers to form up and they recited it, until everyone finished learning by memory that litany of the hatred.  Overnight, Ernst Lissauer knew the most ardent fame than a poet could obtain in that epoch.  A fame that, certainly, finished for burning him as the robe of Neso, because as soon as the war finished, all they endeavored for being freed of the fault that corresponded in that enmity and they signaled Lissauer as the great developer of that senseless hysteria of hatred that in 1914 all they had shared.  He was exiled, all they returned him the back and he died in the oblivion, as a tragic victim of that wave of injustice that once had supported him, and then had sunk him without remedy. 

This history is a good example of what happens when some cause the drum of the hatred to redouble.  The grudge generates more grudge and, if it is not stopped, quick becomes an unstoppable wave that causes the most impartial ears to resound, and the most stable hearts to tremble.  On that occasion there were a few that had enough forces and sufficient lucidity to escape from that vicious circle of hatred and aggression that seemed was going to absorb all.  They were some few people that were not left to carry for the own credulity of the grudge, that managed to surpass the clumsy and simple idea that the truth and the justice are always of the own side.  And they were few because, unfortunately, to blow in favor of what disconnects, uses to be easier and tempting that the opposite. 

Nietzsche considered the mercy and the pardon as the loophole of the weak.  Nevertheless, more pledge and more fortresses are needed to forgive that to be left to carry for the grudge and the desires of revenge.  One needs more moral size and more intelligence to discover the good things that there are in the others that to be obsessed with what we do not like of them.  It is better and more meritorious to throw out of the good things that there are in each one instead of exasperating them with our arrogance.  The history of the humanity shows in a tragic form the bitter fruits of all those occasions in which the feelings of violence, intolerance, pride and lack of solidarity among the men were promoted and exalted.

The resentment carries the people to feel hurt and not to forget.  Many times, that resentment becomes sickly and becomes a hypersensitivity to feel mistreated, and that conviction is revived time and again by the imagination, like a washing machine, impeding to forget, deforming the reality and conducting to the obsession.  Another times, there are momentary explosions that immediately leave the bitter flavor of the distaste of the own words, as soon as the spirits of the first enthusiasm evaporates. 

There are people that anywhere the conflicts are -are they large or small- tend to be relaxed, and they are at the end surpassed or resolved.  But there are many others that exacerbate them and make them chronic.  In front of the resentment, the solution is the pardon and the effort to surpass the offenses.  To become accustomed to be a conciliatory person requires some stronger psychological power, but this is at the reach of everybody, and it is worthy to make an effort to acquire it. 

86.  The sense of fault

The Danish writer Henrik Stangerup presents in his novel "The man that wanted to be guilty" an interesting reflection about the sense of fault.  The protagonist, Torben, has committed a crime and intends in vain that the responsible for the justice in the society in which he lives recognized it as it was.  Nevertheless, they tell him that his act has not been a murder, but a regrettable accident caused by the circumstances.  They assure him that it has come forced by the society, which is the unique truly guilty.  They treat him as to an unbalanced, victim of an absurd culpability complex.  Immediately they intend to leave him free and they try to cause him to forget every memory about his woman. 

But he knows that he has killed his woman in an access of rage and drunkenness, he feels guilty and he wants to pay for it.  Along the novel, the protagonist will go driving crazy with the truth, overwhelmed by the expropriation that they have done of the bases of his personal responsibility, while he tries without success to probe that he is guilty of that death. 

The message of the book is clear: if in any human collectivity the sense of fault or the notion of evil is lost, it finishes not been able to speak about the good any more.  The true good cannot exist if the existence of evil is not understood.  And the culpability of the person needs to be compensated by the same person properly.  For Torben, the only way to resolve his problem is managing to be forgiven and, as the dead woman no longer can do it, he searches something that can repair his fault: while it doesn't obtain it, he feels annulled as a person. 

In our familial, professional or social life it can happen to us, saving the distances, something similar.  Any person commits errors that produce damage in those that surround him and in him too, and all this uses to bring a sense of fault.  If we intend to ignore the reality of that damage that we have produced, or we tried to project without reason our fault on the others, then we would cause us a new damage, and more serious, to ourselves, because we do not put remedy to that evil, but we ignore it or we hide from it. 

The feeling of fault by something that we have done badly is like a warning, the same as it is, for example, the physical pain, that notifies us that something in our body does not go well.  It is natural and positive to feel guilt for what we did badly.  If we have done erroneously, the logical thing is that on account of it we feel bad, or even very bad.  Then we should not permit that the memory and the imagination revive it continuously, but the solution isn't to ignore it and to pile up soil on top of it.  It is precise to recognize and to understand the error, and to utilize the will to emerge with greater force from the passed experience. 

If one experiences properly the fault, the first reaction is the search of pardon and the intent to pay attention to the possible reparation that the damage caused.  Later, when one has already been forgiven and one has done every reasonable and possible thing to compensate that fault, is when one feels a true relief and is easier to forget. 

The offense is like an injury, and the pardon is the first step on the way of its healing, that can be long.  The pardon is not a shortcut to reach the happiness, but a long path that one must travel through.  Therefore, when some people say they do not regret anything of what they have done and that if they would be born again, they would do everything equally as they did before, they show to be little conscious of the errors that they have accumulated along their life.  If they do not notify them, if they do not feel guilty of all those abuses and they do not seek the way to repair the damage that they have caused, they are immersed in a serious process of self-deception that will have some day a bitter wake-up. 

87. The risk of the self-deception

His biographers say that, before his suicide at Berlin's Chancellery on April the 30th, 1945, Adolf Hitler was suffering a gradual process of escaping the reality, a constant need of self-deception and of receiving favorable news.  Above all from the entrance of the U.S. in the war, Hitler was entering each time more in a world of fiction created by himself.  It is doubtless that he possessed a prodigious intelligence, but he preferred to be deceived, and his deceit carried him to abandon the reality in a surprising way.  In fact, in the middle of that month of April 1945, when the tanks of the soviet marshal Zhukov were already a few kilometers away of Brandenburg's gate, Hitler repeated shouting to his staff inside his subterranean refuge, that the Russians would suffer a bloody rout in front of the doors of Berlin. 

Historians as Hugh Trevor-Roper and Ian Kershaw have analyzed with detail how the process by which he was poisoned by his triumphs, finished abandoning every sign of diplomacy and intelligence.  It does not seem possible that the work of the Nazi publicity had modified in such a way Hitler's data to the extreme to cause him to believe that his routs were victories.  But the indisputable fact is that, five days before his death, surrounded by operating maps increasingly more unreal, he enumerated with great security to his generals the improbable tricks that caused him to expect a final victory. 

The reading of those historic testimonies – more than fifty years have already passed and there are sufficient and well contrasted documents that have done possible to know what happened- offers us an extreme and amazing example of the way in which a man can become enclosed in his own world, until being transferred completely to the kingdom of the imagination.  That sad and tragic episode of the history of the 20th century was born marked by the self-deception to deny the existence of upper moral principles that limited the power and the pursuit of his objectives, and can serve us to stop an instant and to speak of that great danger of the self-deception, that, in diverse measure, is awaiting to all of us in small things of the ordinary life of each day. 

The man, when has been beaten by the adversity, feels frequently the temptation to flee.  Nevertheless, any life is governable if there is not a constant effort by being connected to the reality, if one does not remain in guard against the lie, or in front of the seduction of the fantasy when it is presented as a narcotic to elude the reality that costs us to accept. 

The temptation of the unreal thing is constant, and constant should be for us the fight against it.  Otherwise, at the moment to decide what one must do, we will not confront courageously to the reality of the things to calibrate their true convenience, but we will fall in some kind of escapism, of flight of the reality or of ourselves.  The escapist seeks ways to escape from the problems.  He does not resolve them, he avoids them.  In last term, he has fear of the reality.  And, if the problem does not disappear, it will be he who disappears. 

The self-deception can be presented in many various forms.  There are people, for example, that fall in it because they need continuous demonstrations of compliment and approval.  Their sensibility to the flatter, to the continuous "you have the reason" without having it, causes them to unfold around slave people. At the end, the relation between them may probably cause everybody to get crazy. There are difficult to disillusion people, because they require to the others that they follow the herd, that the others lye to them, and they finish for entangling to the others in their own lies.  They are easy prey of the sycophants that handle them to his own, and, although at times they are conscious and become aware that they are victims of a farce, it does not use to be enough for them to leave. 

The truth, and especially the moral truth, should not be received as an arbitrary limitation to the freedom of the persons, but, on the contrary, like a liberating light that permits to give a good orientation to the own decisions.  To receive the truth carries to the man to his fullest development.  On the other hand, to elude the truth or to refuse to accept it causes a damage to himself and, almost always, also to the others.  The truth is our better and wiser friend, always arranged and desirous to respond in our aid.  It is certain that, at times, the truth is not declared in a clear way, but we should do our best so that the lack of clarity only is given in our thought, because we have not yet made the necessary effort in the search of the truth. 

88. The control of the wrath

When someone receives an offence, or something that seems to him an insult, if he is a person with no capability of self control, it is easy that it seemed increasingly more offensive to him, because his memory and his imagination stimulate inside him a great fire by turning an idea over in his mind over what has happened. 

The passion of the wrath has an enormous destructive force.  The wrath causes many irreparable tragedies.  There are many persons that, by an instant of rage, have ruined a project, a friendship, a family.  Therefore it is convenient that before the fire take shape, we extinguish the embers of the irritation without giving time the fire to spread. 

The wrath is like an impetuous animal that we should have well grasped of the reins.  If each one of us recalls some occasion in which, feeling an impulse of rage, we have restrained us, and another moment in which we have left us to drag for it, comparing both episodes we will be able easily to make interesting conclusions.  It suffices to think about how we have felt after having dominated the wrath and how we have felt if sometimes we have been dominated by it.  When this case happens, we experience immediately sorrow and shame, although nobody directs to us any reproach. 

It suffices to contemplate serenely in others a sudden attack of wrath to grasp a little the clumsiness that it supposes.  A person dominated by the annoyance is as blind and drunken by the fury.  When the wrath revolves and agitates a man, it is difficult that his acts become previously oriented by the reason.  And when that person returns to himself he torments again recalling what he did, the damage that he had produced, the spectacle that he gave.  He thinks about the persons that were present, in those people in whose presence he then perhaps did not repair, but that now causes him a restless sensation to recall.  And even more or less friends, he feels in front of them deeply ashamed. 

The wrath uses to have as cause a frustration caused by the blockade of the desires or of the expectations that are defrauded for the action of another person, whose attitude we perceive as aggressive.  It is certain that we can get irritated for anything, but we feel the true wrath in front of actions in which we appreciate a voluntary hostility from another person. 

As it has been indicated by José Antonio Marina, the emotional and physical state in which we find influences us in this matter in an important form.  It is well known how the alcohol predisposes to the fury, the same as the fatigue or any type of excitement.  Also the strong or continuous noises, the hurry or the very repetitive situations cause similar effects.  In cases of accumulation of diverse addends, one can feel furious and not to know really why. 

And why some people is so sociable and they laugh and they joke, and others are bad-tempered, shy and sad; and some are irritable, violent and irate, while others are indolent, irresolute and timid?  Without doubt there are biological reasons, but they have been completed, enlarged or mitigated by the education and by the personal learning: also the wrath or the calm can be learned. 

Many people maintain an aggressive conduct or attitude because it seems to them to find in it a source of personal pride.  In the aggressive cultures, the individuals use to be proud of their crashes of violence, because they think that these crashes provide them authority and recognition.  Therefore it is a pity that in some environments those aggressive models are so much valued, that confuse the capacity to surpass obstacles with a species of absurd need to mistreat to the others. 

The aggressive conducts are learned, sometimes, by reward.  Sadly, in many cases happens that the aggressive conducts result rewarded.  For example, a boy learns immediately if to cry, to stamp one's feet with rage or to become annoyed are efficient media to obtain what they are proposed to; and, if that is repeated habitually, it is doubtless for that girl or that boy the learning of the control of the wrath will be really difficult, and that, educating him thus, we made to him or to her a big harm. 

89.  The satisfaction of the desires

"He had devoured everything that he had been able to, like a fond of sweets' boy, until the nausea.  But after the satiety came the deception and the apathy.  A day he began to feel an intense resentment, not against me or against the world, but because he had realized that in the life nobody can be abandoned to his desires and to leave unpunished." 

Thus describes Sándor Márai in one of his novels the phenomenon that, to my judgment, is in the root of the majority of the problems of coexistence among the people.  Our selfishness, that always is present, undermining our nature, demands continuously the satisfaction of its desires.  And those desires interfere with the desires of the others.  If we do not keep in mind the differences with those desires of the others, if there is not a firm purpose of respect and of aid, the contact finishes being a fight between the pretensions of the others.  The friendship or the love can cause to coincide initially the desires, but after sometime tends to separate them, and that makes difficult the coexistence if there is not an effort to surpass the selfishness. 

As it has been written by Jacques Philippe, the first thing is to understand that, in the sufferings that we produce to the others, we haven't to see systematically the bad will in them (just as we use to do habitually).  When some problems between two persons arise, it is frequent that both are hurried to do moral appraisals the one of the other, when what are in the bottom of the question are misunderstandings or difficulties of communication. 

The majority of the people have a quite different character of the one that have the people with whom they relate.  We have different ways to see the things, different sensibilities, and also do neither coincide in each moment our state of spirit or our sense of humor.  Some people are very fond of the order, and the smaller maladjustment burdens them, while to others what causes them asphyxiation is the environment too much organized and thoughtful.  The lovers of the order use to feel knocked down by the ones that go out leaving all by any place, while the people of contrary temperament are annoyed when they are required a perfect order.  And immediately the intentions are judged, because all we tend to praise what coincides with our inclinations and our way to be, and to criticize what we don't like.  Therefore, if we don't moderate our own desires and we keep in mind whatever thing that separates us, it is easy to finish converting the human coexistence in a fight between the defenders of the order and the defenders of the liberty, between the followers of the exactness and those of the flexibility, the lovers of the calm and the lovers of the agitation, the early risers and the night owls, the talkative and the taciturn, and so on. 

If we get accustomed to satisfy too much our desires and to try to impose them on the others, the result will be the frustration, so much by the insatiability of the spiral of the own desires as by the conflicts that will be produced with the desires of who surround us.  Therefore, if we feel displeased habitually with the others, we should seek the root in the displeasure with ourselves.  It is a difficult task, that obliges us to relativize a little our intelligence, to know how to renounce to that "pride to be right" that so often impedes us to tune positively with the others.  It is a matter of renunciation that sometimes costs terribly but that helps us to live better together with the others and to leave our narrow-mindedness to open us to the others.  Besides, all we know the happiness that we feel when we conquer our own selfishness and we serve to the others, we provide them happiness or consolation. 

90.  A new key

I remember the case of a student that since the beginning of the course produced to me a quite evil impression.  His attitude was habitually negative, even quite much defiant.  It seemed as if every moment he had to verify to where was disposed the professor to permit his small provocations.  Also he had difficulties with his companions, among which he was quite unpopular. 

His mood and his behavior in class arrived to produce me a bit of irritation.  After a few days of the school year, I decided to vary the order that continued in my interviews with the new students to speak with him as soon as possible.  To the first occasion, I called him.  We sit down and I asked him how founded himself in his new class. 

The first minutes were, in his side, of a complete silence, only interrupted by some stingy monosyllables.  Although I endeavored myself for showing confidence, seeking the motive of his disinterest and his difficulties of relation with his companions, barely I received any answer from him. 

I passed to ask him more personal things, about his parents, about the atmosphere in his house.  Little by little, he was allowing me to note that, in reality, he wanted to speak, but he founded himself inside a barrier.  Finally, and without abandoning that arrogant tone that seemed so proper of him, he answered me:  "That how go the things in my house? Very bad, terrible.  You loose the desire for all.  You see everything very easy, it is evident.  But how would be the case if you see if your mother sick in bed since two years ago and your father returned home drunk the half of the days?  You would be all right, I suppose.  But, I regret it; I'm not able to face it". 

He continued speaking, at the beginning with certain temper, but some few phrases later he came down, his voice was broken and he began to cry.  Once broken the ice, the boy abandoned that false attitude of pride and of distance that he was using as defense, and he opened his heart completely.  Little by little he was relating the family's drama in which he was immersed and that caused him to live in that state of anguish and of agitation.  The illness, the alcohol and the economic difficulties had rarefied the environment in his house to levels difficult to imagine.  Being fourteen years old, he was carrying already on his shoulders an unfortunate load of enormously frustrating personal experiences. 

It is not difficult to imagine what I felt at that time.  My vision of that boy had changed completely in only some seconds.  Suddenly, I saw the things otherwise, I thought of him otherwise, and later on I treated him in another way.  I had to do no effort to make that change, I had not to force minimally my attitude either my conduct: simply, my heart had been invaded by his pain, and without effort flowed feelings of sympathy and affection.  All had changed in a moment. 

I then recalled me of that saying from Graham Greene, that, if we want to be able to know the true motive of all, we would have compassion even of the stars.  And I thought that many of the problems that we have along the life use to be problems of understanding and of relation with the others. They frequently have their root in that: we do not endeavor enough to understand the people. 

When I hear to say that the youths do not have heart, or that they don't have already the respect that they once had, I always think that -as it has been written by Susanna Tamaro- the heart continues being the same as always, only that perhaps now there is a little less of hypocrisy.  The youths are not egotists naturally, in the same way as the old are not naturally wise.  Comprehension and superficiality are not a simple question of years, but of the road that each one of us travels in his life. 

There is an Indian adage that says thus:  "Before judging a person, you have to walk during three moons in his shoes".  Viewed from outside, many lives seem wrong, irrational, crazy.  While we maintain us outside them, it is easy to understand badly to the people.  Only being inside, only walking three moons in their shoes we can understand their motivations, their feelings, what makes that a person acts in a way instead of doing it in another.  The comprehension is born of the humility, not of the pride of the knowledge.