Quote: Living With Yourself.

“but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

–Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird

As hard as it it to live with someone else, perhaps the most difficult person to live is ourselves.

After all, we live with our selves twenty four hours a day seven days a week from birth right through to eternity. That’s way longer than being stuck in the same lift with someone…anyone!!

When I was younger, I used to get frustrated when my Mum would think she knew me better than I knew myself. Who did she think she was? She wasn’t me. She wasn’t walking in my shoes. Indeed, she had her own shoes and she could jolly well step straight back in them and leave my shoes alone!!

However, I have lately come to appreciate that we only know ourselves from the inside out.. through our own eyes, our own experience and let’s faceit, when you’ve only been on the planet for 5 short years, your understanding of the bigger picture and wider world is extremely limited.

Those around us, particularly who know us well but also have a broader experience and knowledge of life, can not only see us but also where and how we might fit into the overall scheme of things. They can see abilities in us we might overlook or downplay as well because so many of us are our own worst critics. In putting ourselves down or aiming for a perfection we can never attain, we can completely dismiss our strengths and fail to become all we were meant to be.

Rowena sea steps

Returning to the quote, however, that deals more with our conscience. That it doesn’t matter what other people think or hold dear, we must be true to our own values and conscience. Stand up and be counted…even if we are the one…that lone voice calling out through the wilderness.

After all, only we need to live with ourselves…and our actions and inactions. No one else.

As Edmund Burke wrote:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Moreover, for those of you who are a bit like me and feel you can’t do much, he also wrote:

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

Edmund Burke

It is so much easier for us to point the finger out, instead of pointing it in and asking: “What is my role? What do I need to do? Not someone else…just me.

What are your views? Please share. I’d love to hear from you!

xx Rowena

I would like to thank Merril Smith for sharing the quotes from To Kill A Mockingbird, which inspired this post. You can read her post here: https://merrildsmith.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/walk-and-talk/

12 thoughts on “Quote: Living With Yourself.

  1. charlypriest

    I do know the first quote, and at first I really took it to heart but later I thought that really evil does eventually prevail over goodness. I take it from my experience in the army, not that we were good perfect men that´s for sure but we certainly where not chopping heads off, treating women like slaves, the list goes on. So if in that case us (good men) did something….didn´t take much time for evil to end up again in the same spots, so eventually evil will prevail. You just have to deal with it.

  2. merrildsmith

    A thoughtful post, Rowena. I’m glad I was able to help inspire it.
    I think most people have those “what if” moments. There are times when we look back and regret something we did not do. Hopefully, it is not something too awful. We must all live with our conscience, but I am afraid that there are some who do not have one.

    On the first Edmund Burke quote, you might want to see this: http://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/12/04/good-men-do/

  3. Norah

    Great post, Rowena. There were many thought-provoking and inspiring quotes in “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I do like this one you have used to open the post. Trouble is, the truth that some people follow is not a truth that is in the best interests of the majority. I wish they could change their minds so that evil doesn’t prevail.
    I think we all need to choose what little or big thing we can do, and not try to do everything. We don’t need to sing about it and let everyone know. We just need to get on with it. I’m a great believer in starting with the one in the mirror – “look at yourself and make a change”. (I’m not directing that at you, but at we (mainly me) in general.

  4. Rowena Post author

    Thanks for putting me onto the quote investigator. I think I’ve seen that before awhile back. That is a favourite quote of mine. I did like this quote along the same lines from John Stuart Mill and thought it relates well to the current US election: “He should not be lulled to repose by the delusion that he does no harm who takes no part in public affairs. He should know that bad men need no better opportunity than when good men look on and do nothing. He should stand to his principles even if leaders go wrong.”
    xx Ro

  5. Ordinary_Madness

    Maybe there is no self-conciousness of ourselves and we can only try to know ourselves VIA others. Put a baby in an empty box, feed it, clean it, but the baby wont know what it is/who it is. I feel we need to be recognised by the Other to have any sense of self.

  6. Rowena Post author

    Thanks so much for your thoughts. So insightful. We definitely need need the other as a reference point to know who we are. xx Rowena

  7. New Journey

    bring a lot to mind….like you I hated it when my mom and sisters told me the knew what was best for because they know what I need better than myself…I would stomp my feet and pout…how could they know what I need…hummmm indeed…..we should be taught at a young age that our elders are wise, especially the woman….they can teach us so much about ourselves….love your post…and quotes….funny thing, I am still learning about myself through others eyes….and most days I like who they see….LOL kat

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