Monday, March 5, 2018

There was a quote by Machiavelli in The Prince, where he gives advice to the country's ruler. In my memory it goes somewhat like this:

It does not matter whether you are kind and love your people. There are greedy and cruel men who, using ruthless means, have nevertheless ensured the longevity and peace of their kingdoms. To gain public support, it is necessary to know how to appear to be kind, religious, and merciful; but it is also necessary to know when to set that aside and be the opposite.

I read it a long time ago (I shall find that quote eventually!) but it stuck with me, because it stated a truth, even if it was hard to swallow. There are terrible people - people who'd make me doubt goodness in the world, people who make me wonder about humanity - who have created stability and peace. While ideals like Love and Peace and Goodness are great to tattoo on our arms and secretly believe of ourselves, these ideals sometimes can be crushed by reality.

I guess I remembered this quote because it rang deeply in me; when I read it I had already begun to understand that sometimes our feelings don't matter - and often (always) the world doesn't care about our feelings anyway. Results aren't the only thing, but at the same time, neither are pure intentions. If there is something we dearly want to achieve, sometimes we must act differently than what the world claims we should.

Which brings me to another of Machiavelli's quotes:

How we live is so different from how we ought to live that he who studies what ought to be done rather than what is done will learn the way to his downfall rather than to his preservation. 

PS: Always with a pinch of salt.

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