- A miserable man,
sneers at every thing;
one thing he knows not,
which he ought to know,
that he is not free from faults
Upon skimming through “The 80 Wisdom Sayings of the Vikings” from the Art of Manliness website, I found many interesting sayings–some generic and some new and thought-provoking. One of the most interesting sayings I found, however, is number 22, which is posted above. In modern English terms, this poem basically says: Someone who looks down on other people and things will be unhappy; along with this, he fails to realize that he too has his own faults.
Though the advice to be prudent with judgement is pretty generic, it is still good advice to remember. I feel this poem is telling the reader to couple external judgement with internal judgement; in other words, look inside of yourself as well because no one is without faults. I know I make judgements on a daily basis. People in general make judgements–good and bad–on a daily basis; that’s just human nature. It’s important to make judgements of what you and other people do and what you don’t approve of, but there is a difference between analyzing and sneering. As college changes from an imaginary concept to a quickly approaching reality, I and many of my peers will start meeting new people. This advice is important to keep in mind during this time because any initial arrogance can ultimately alienate you from others. For instance, if you sneer or look down on someone because of a single fault you see, you could prematurely terminate a friendship that otherwise would have succeeded after more time spent together. If over time you alienate too many people in life, you can become “a miserable […] and ill-conditioned” person. So perhaps, instead of letting an initial judgement affect your interaction with others, you should remember that you have faults as well.
Many characters throughout literature could have benefited from this advice. One example occurs in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Many of the super wealthy residents living on the East Egg such as Daisy and Tom Buchanan think themselves better than others just because they have money. At first Daisy seems kind, worldly, and enigmatic, but by the end of the novel, the reader realizes her true selfish and shallow personality. She “sneers” at the lifestyle of West Egg residents and ultimately chooses Tom over Gatsby because Tom can give her more money and an “elite” status. Intrinsically, Daisy sneers at those with less or no money and considers herself above them. Had she avoided this mindset, she would not have hit Myrtle, rejected her young love for the safety of a wealthy jerk, and seemed as repulsive of a character in the eyes of the reader.