By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Taking the Good Hint

I want to focus on the need to take good hints! Ironically, we, the very rational Homo sapiens, often take every hint except the ones that are the most favorable. I was reminded of this irrationality by a commentary by classicist Clyde Pharr (by the way, I highly recommend his old, annotated edition of the first six books of the Aeneid). Pharr comments that the Roman custom was to explicitly accept an omen: "Omen accipio"/"I accept the omen." (The Romans, very sensibly, ignored unfavorable omens, according to Pharr. See his comments at Aeneid V.530-31.)

We can learn from this Roman custom: accept what is favorable. But to do so, we must first be vigilant and on the "look out" for what is favorable. Even here, our irrationality loves to play games: many of us tend to question favorable signs until we have come up with an explanation that ends up making "unfavorable" what is reasonably viewed as favorable.

So, the lesson is this: when a favorable sign in your life occurs, accept it, Roman-style, before your doubts rush to distort the rationally favorable into its irrational opposite. This approach is a way to defuse our own habits of self-sabotage.
(Image in public domain)