Napoleon Bonaparte on being slandered

I am supposing there is nobody reading this post, who is of a mature age, who has not been slandered.

In this day and age libel suits and claims for damages are mounting and making the headlines. Recently Anil Ambani filed a suit against NDTV for Rs 10,000 crores as damages. His accountants and lawyers will justify this amount in court in due course. But leaving aside these sordid calculations let us look at what some of the great men of history have to say on this subject.

The Bible says – Do good to those who despitefully use you.

Emerson says (in his essay on Self Reliance) –   Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

What I am about to say can be summarized in the English saying – Life is too short to be little.

And I have the endorsement of one of the greatest men in history – Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon, it can be assumed, was a man of the world and not given to vague theories about the milk of human kindness. Yet his policy towards being attacked through libels and slanders was as described below –

Notwithstanding the singular moderation displayed by Napoleon in these victories, the most atrocious libels respecting his conduct were circulated by his foes throughout Europe. To exasperate the Catholics he was reported to have seized the venerable Pope by his grey hairs, and thus to have dragged him about the room. One day Napoleon was reading one of these virulent libels, describing him as a perfect monster of licentiousness, bloodthirstiness and crimes. At times he shrugged his shoulders and again laughed heartily, but did not display the least sign of anger. To one who expressed surprise at this he said –

“It is the truth only which gives offence. Everybody knows that I was not by nature given to debauchery, and moreover the multiplicity of my affairs allowed me no time for such vices. Still, persons will be found who will believe these things. But how can that be helped? If it should enter anybody’s head to put in print that I had grown hairy and walked on four paws, there are people who would believe it and who would say that God had punished me as he did Nebuchadnezzar. And what could I do? There is no remedy in such cases.”

I think I learned from a Batman movie that people fear that which they do not understand. And fear leads to cruelty.

People also attack anybody or anything that threatens their interests. If you have the questionable good fortune of having achieved some eminence in life then you will be subject to even more attacks by vested interests who are opposing you. Politicians know this and are used to this. But even ordinary people like us should have better things to do in life than to brood over perceived injustices and try to extract our pound of flesh.

It is a truism that those who are good at giving advice are unable to follow it. So, I can only hope I will be able to live up to these ideals. However, old habits die hard and I can’t make any promises.

I’ll end here. Hope this helps someone. Please explore this blog for more articles on Politics, Spirituality and Self Help. If you liked this article then please share it on Facebook and Twitter and feel free to post your comments or contact me. Link to contact is below.

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