One of my students in Greek Philosophy, discussing the Stoic ideal of accepting fate, said that when she was growing up she heard a story about a boy whose entire family was murdered. After spending his life searching for the murderer, the boy, now a man, found the murderer was about to die.
The murderer begged the man to kill him and end his suffering, but the man refused to punish the murderer. Now the man wondered why he had spent his life trying to kill his family’s murderer when time was already going to do it for him.
Gerlach is German and rhymes with bear-lock. I was born and raised in the Haight Ashbury of San Francisco, moved to Berkeley for college and grad school, with an MA in History of Religion from the Graduate Theological Union of Berkeley, and now teach Philosophy and the history of human thought at Berkeley City College. I have taught Intro Philosophy, Ethics, Logic, Asian Philosophy, Greek Philosophy, Modern European Philosophy and Social & Political Philosophy there for the past several years, and it has been a joy.
December 16, 2014 at 11:30 pm
If the murderer was suffering, begging for death, would the man be doing him a favor by bringing it swiftly? If the story implies that the man forgave the murderer and let time and fate take its course in the end, wouldn’t he still have a hatred in his heart for not killing the murderer? He spent his life finding the murderer but did it bring him satisfaction to see him laying there suffereng so?
December 16, 2014 at 11:33 pm
The story ends with the man’s profound dissatisfaction with the course he took in life. It would have been better for him to let things go, but because he did not forgive and forget, he wasted his life and likely finds no solace. I actually left out the last part of my student’s story, which is that the man dies depressed and forlorn. It does indeed appear that he still had great hatred in his heart, as you say.
December 16, 2014 at 11:36 pm
Ah I see, so the man died bitter. a very good story, a timeless lesson that can implemented in our lives over and over again!
December 17, 2014 at 12:10 am
Indeed! As with many gems of ancient thought, it is just as useful today as it was in ancient times.