The Grandeur Of Acquiring Knowledge

Sidonius Apollinaris, who died in 489 A.D., was a diplomat, literary figure, and ecclesiastical official of fifth-century Gaul.  He was also a letter-writer of impressive fecundity and erudition; and his powers of memory were so great, we are told, that he was able to recite long liturgies from memory and deliver orations without notes or preparation.  One of his letters (II.10), written to a friend named Hesperius, contains the following noteworthy sentence:

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George Washington’s Leadership Qualities

George Washington generally preferred a restrained style of leadership.  By this I mean he was economical with his words, careful in doling out both praise and recriminations, and mindful that his actions would resound more loudly with subordinates than his statements.  He understood the principle that, when leading men, sometimes a leader had to turn his back on them; he did not strive for back-slapping familiarity, but instead the calm and steady application of discipline and objective.

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Conscience As The Theater Of Virtue: The Justice Of Saladin

I very much like the following maxim of Cicero’s:

Nevertheless, no theater for virtue is greater than one’s conscience. [1]

What he meant by this was that one’s own conscience should guide the performance of good works.  He was expressing his disapproval of those who did things for the purpose of gaining public favor, instead of following that inner voice which represents man’s instinctive sense of justice.  What should be paramount in one’s mind are not specious public displays, or a craving for shameless notoriety; what should be controlling are the dictates of one’s own conscience.

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Do What You Love, Because Life’s Going To Kick You In The Head No Matter What You Do (Podcast)

A reader asks if he’s making the right decision by leaving his corporate job and going to law school.  He is uninspired by his current job, feels restless, and wants to fight against the injustices he sees around him.  He is intelligent, organized, and motivated to change. I offer some thoughts on his decision.

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Remedies, Detriments, And Moral Factors

The jurist, poet, and scholar Baha Al-Din Ibn Shaddad (بهاء الدين ابن شداد) was born in the city of Mosul, Iraq in 1145.  He was a close friend of the famed commander and statesman Saladin, and wrote a highly valued biography of that eminent conqueror.  He served for a time as the qadi (judge) of Aleppo, and in this capacity had much opportunity to acquaint himself to the realities of human behavior; it seems that, no matter the country or culture, career lawyers and judges make remarkably astute observers.  Ibn Shaddad’s biographer Ibn Khallikan says that the judge often liked to quote this line of verse from the poet Ibn Al-Fadl (known as Surr-Durr):

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The Indian Rope Trick

The traveler Ibn Battuta visited north India in the early 1330s  to seek the employment of the sultan Mohammad Ibn Tughluq.  At some point during his residence in the city of Delhi, he had occasion to observe the practices of the Indian holy men, whom he called jugis (i.e., yogis).

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The Multimixer Moment (Podcast)

In life there are certain crisis points that may lead to fateful decisions.  Recognizing these points, and acting decisively when they are reached, is the mark of a true man of action.  When you are on a track that you don’t want to be on, you will eventually have to choose one of two options:  accept your present circumstances, or take dramatic action to break out of your situation.  This crisis point, this moment of decision, what I call the “Multimixer Moment.”  It’s a reference to a scene in the 2016 film The Founder, a movie about how a traveling salesman named Ray Kroc founded the McDonald’s franchise.

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