Signs of the Times

Topic: Tolerance and Brotherhood

[E. M. Forster, in the Listener, London, England]

Tolerance is my first little message. My second springs out of it. It's about faultfinding. I think that in private life faultfinding is generally a mistake. I draw a very sharp line here between private and public life. If a man is a public figure—say an official or a politician or a writer or a speaker—he is a proper target for criticism, and ought to have it, and the community where faultfinding of that kind is forbidden is never a healthy one. But in our private relationships the less we criticize the better, for most people need encouragement much more than blame. So on the whole—don't snub your neighbor, don't make him look a fool, don't show him up, don't take him down, don't have things out with him, ... and, if you must do such things, don't be proud of it afterwards, for there is nothing to be proud of in putting a fellow creature out of action.

May 20, 1939

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