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Website owner:  James Miller


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On learning from example


   There are many proverbs telling of the value of good example in 
   influencing others.  One can be influenced for good by the good 
   example of others.  Yet I think many people learn a lot more 
   from the bad example of others.  I think that in my case I have 
   been more influenced for good by the bad example of others than 
   from the good example.  I remember when I was young I would see 
   faults in the conduct or character of others and remind myself 
   not to make that mistake, act that way, be guilty of that.  I 
   would note the bad behavior and it was a lesson for me.  I 
   would remember it and it would influence the way I behaved.  
   Most of us have a lot more bad example around us than good 
   example so it is the bad example from which we are more likely 
   to learn.  My wife, who works with a couple of badly overweight 
   people, tells me they are a constant example for her, reminding 
   her to watch her diet and keep her weight in check.  At lunch 
   time she watches them eat big high-fat meals that they have 
   ordered from a local fast-food joint and she lunches on her 
   fruit and non-fat yogurt that she brought in.  As we notice 
   different things in the character of others such as 
   maliciousness, argumentativeness, dishonesty, laziness, etc. it 
   can be a sort of object lesson for us on how not to behave.  It 
   is true too, of course, that bad example can influence people 
   towards badness.  One person sees badness and is repelled by it 
   and it is an object lesson to him on how not to behave; another 
   person sees the same badness and is attracted to it and copies 
   it.  The explanation for the difference?  The spirit that 
   reigns within us. 


   Aug 2001


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