I’ve been fascinated by Eric Hoffer’s thoughts on “alibis” — what we would call an excuse.
Hoffer wrote, “There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth anew each day: we have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life. Moreover, when we have an alibi for not writing a book, painting a picture, and so on, we have an alibi for not writing the greatest book and not painting the greatest picture. Small wonder that the effort expended and the punishment endured in obtaining a good alibi often exceed the effort and grief requisite for the attainment of a most marked achievement.”
It’s so often stunned me that humans will expend seemingly unlimited strength of mind and creativity to excuse what is often a simple dodge of responsibility. What’s sadder, in the case of many excuses (and that to which Hoffer alludes) we fail others and certainly fail ourselves when we default to offering up a cheap “word of dodging” rather than a what might have been the product of that strength and creativity.
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