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Errare Humanum Est, Sed Perseverare Diabolicum

Posted on the 05 February 2013 by Fadi Bejjani @DrFadiBejjani

Errare Humanum Est, sed Perseverare Diabolicum

"To err is human, but to persist is diabolical" Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman Philosopher of the First Century A.D.

It is common knowledge that humans do make mistakes. Even if these mistakes can have different consequences, they still are first and foremost mistakes, therefore human. If a businessman makes a mistake in judgment for example, one or more people can loose a lot of money or their jobs. Would that be more "human" or more acceptable because no loss of limb or loss of life? What if one of the victims of this mistake committed suicide or succumbed to a heart attack because of grief. Would that mistake be considered less acceptable then? it is the same mistake made by the same businessman, however unintended as they may be, the consequences are graver with this death. Should the mistake be then considered intolerable and the businessman made to pay monetarily or criminally? The fact that the person died had only to do with the person himself and how he reacted, not with the businessman's actions. Yet the defunct's family would probably lawyer up and try to take the businessman for everything he has. Some overzealous prosecutor craving media attention would probably pursue manslaughter charges.
The point that I am trying to make is that, for a society that prides itself with tolerance and prohibits any kind of discrimination (race, creed, disability), we can be quite intolerant when it comes to our fellow humans making mistakes, especially if they have some prominence and/or wealth. Even though as human as the rest of them, doctors mistakes are poorly tolerated and tend to linger; law enforcement (e.g. shooting an unarmed man) have some consequences depending on the venue; politicians mistakes are often reversible with time because they are slick and have nine lives (Elliot Spitzer is back with a TV show; Anthony Wiener is considering running for Mayor, etc.)
The New Testament preaches tolerance and forgiveness of mistakes: the Parable of the Prodigal Son; Thou Shall Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself (Mark, 12:31)Let He Who is Without Sin Cast the First Stone (Jesus and the woman taken in adultery, John 7:53 - 8:11). Often in our society those who claim to be the most "christian" or Bible-lovers can be the least tolerant and the most judgmental, as if reading the Bible should give them the right to feel superior thus intolerant. It is obvious they may have read it but failed miserably to understand its divine message. Many a crime was committed in the name of religion, e.g. the brutal 130 year war in Europe (1517 - 1648)  between catholics and protestants, two Bible-bound people.

Seneca's aphorism seems to suggest that repeating the mistake is diabolical, as if possessed by the Devil the all powerful tempter . I would think the amount of tolerance and understanding that one encounters after the first mistake is crucial to prevent repetition and thwart the Devil's deeds.

To Err is Human and God is Merciful, So Don't Cast the First Stone...or the Second!

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