Friday, April 16, 2010


Last year I read a book called “The Consolations of Philosophy” by Alain de Botton, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was thought provoking at every page. But one chapter, about one philosopher – Michel de Montaigne, said something that really got me thinking:

"I am a man, nothing human is foreign to me."

What this fifteenth century Frenchman said is essential to being human – empathy. When I read it, that instant my life changed. I became a less judgmental person.

Unfortunately, the world is full of people who cast harsh judgement on others, without any thought of anothers life experience. While reading about the proposed tax hike on cigarettes, which may raise prices to $20 a pack, I read some truly ignorant comments from others readers. People calling all smokers “stupid” and “ignorant”, and my favourite “It is simple maths..........if you do not want to pay the tax, give up smoking. There is nothing difficult about stopping smoking if you really want to”. Have these people ever smoked? Have they ever considered that it might not be as easy as they believe it to be? Somehow, I doubt it. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have depression, but I wouldn’t say to someone who has to just 'smile and be happy'. Humans are not so simple.

Human understanding is marvelously enlightened by daily conversation with men, for we are, otherwise, compressed and heaped up in ourselves, and have our sight limited to the length of our own noses.

I used to think Islam was an archaic, uncivilised religion and its followers not much better. Then I realised – I live in a Christian dominated country, Christian dominated media, everything has a bias to it. I’m sure many Muslims feel the same way about Christianity. So, they’re people too. Upon realising this, that wall crumbled.

Everyone calls barbarity what he is not accustomed to.

Another topic that made me think harder about myself and the way I judged others was a story on Hungry Beast about paedophiles. People just see paedophiles as 1 dimensional characters – evil creatures with only thoughts of raping children on their minds. After seeing that report on the Beast, and reflecting on it, it must be a hard life and not one which would wish upon anyone.

Sometimes I catch myself judging people, other times I don’t – but when I do I always end up realising others are just like me. Human.

- Dogman

P.S. This probably doesn’t need to be said, but those three quotes are Michel de Montaigne.


  1. I often think about those judgmental people, and a tiny distaste builds in my mouth. However, using the same thought process outlined above, I do not place judgment on those who pass judgment to others. They are people with opinions, however poorly based opinions they may be we must accept them as something that came from within another human being. Everyone is equal, and I think if those grumpy commenter's were a little bit more educated on the topic or brought up differently then I'm sure their mind would change.

    Another cool article, you're heating up Hamish.

  2. Sorry, I was checking Analytics hence the BOTM login - that was me, Russell.

  3. I agree with Russ on the judging the judgers. I find myself doing that often as well.

    I think it is a natural thing to compare others to yourself, it becomes negative though due to our obsession with ourselves. Everything i do and own and think is the one truth and anyone who differs will feel the wrath of my judgement.

    As for smokers, they are free to smoke and now that they are forced to smoke in little designated areas it is not really the business of the non smokers. I have no problem with taxing cigarettes as long as the money is used to cover the increased cost of public health due to smoking related diseases. Probably not what happens though...

  4. Dude, amazing words. Every blog that you put up makes me think a hell of a lot. i love the person you are, and the person you see yourself wanting to be. Both of them, I cherish to know.

    As for my opinion on the blog, I agree with all that is said both in the blog and in the comments. But in saying that, I do love a bit of arguing when it comes to a subject or topic. I feel it is needed sometimes to get the coversation at its highest potential. More points and beliefs are raised if there is someone to argue with.

    Also thats a good point you raise with paedophiles. I thought about that a while ago, some one said something like, he might go rape some little boys or something, in regards to a paedophile. Then I thought, wait, what makes a paedophile want to rape a little boy? I mean, are all paedophile gay? sureley that cant be true. Now, with what you have said, its lead me to believe that is just a prime example of how most people don't know what they are talking about. They know a few things then just make up the rest on their thoughts.

  5. whiiich..i guess is what everyone does anyway, right? Has information and knowledge then just makes up their own mind. hence the saying, each to their own. hmm...

  6. Cigarettes should be taxed to the same degree as everything else. The government should not be allowed to tell you what you can and can't put in your body. Don't you think its a little strange how we're told smokes are so bad (I'm not denying it), yet they're not banned, but the taxes keep going up and up? Seems like the government has latched onto a little "cash cow" in the form of cigarette taxes. Look at this report: OECD says ‘smoking down, but obesity up’ for Australians... curious isn't it? Now too at this: Cardiovascular diseases are Australia's costliest. According the World Health Organisation, the risk of Cardiovascular disease is increased by - "Tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes." So if smokers have halved, obesity has tripled... why aren't we banning/taxing the most fattening of foods? Should we bring in a tax for people who are obese, to encourage them to loose weight, just like the one for smokers?

    I don't believe a govt should be allowed to tax one product more than another. This is kind of like censorship. The government can run campaigns to get people to stop smoking all they want to (though I think the use of a woman with a CGI mouth is a bit sus, and its all a massive waste of money), but when you let the government do what they like with tax its not good at all.

    Think about the internet filter. No one agrees with kiddie porn, and the internet filter is a bad idea. But as soon as the government says, "oh, we're gonna filter the internet because of kiddie porn". Who are you to question that logic? Maybe one day the government will be able to convince the masses that a fat-tax is a good idea.

    People have been smoking for longer than people have been fat. Something tells me that smoking isn't a burden on the health care system. Something tells me its bad money management. Australia has one of the highest life expectancies in the world and one of the lowest smoking rates in the world. Yet for some reason our health system is burdened by this? Gimme a fuckin break.

    You know people will always smoke, people like to smoke. I like to smoke. Cigarettes are enjoyable. Its human nature to want to do things that are enjoyable (even if in the end it hooks you with its addictiveness).

  7. You got a good point about selective taxing. I've always thought that matching tax to the public cost inflicted by the products was logical enough, but that logic could easily be stretched like you say to overtax everything. I have no doubt the money raised by the govt is very poorly managed

    Obviously the main reason cigarettes are taxed is cos an increase in the price of ciggies has much smaller effect on demand than a similar increase would have on other products. Therefore it's easy money for the govt. Same with alcohol, and the it would be same with drugs if they were legal.