Sunday, June 5, 2011

"A Pure and Clean Confidence"

from 'How To Live: A Life of Montaigne', by Sarah Bakewell:

"Montaigne's view, on balance, was that both victim and victor should take the path that entailed placing maximum trust in the other--that is, like good Christians, the defeated party should seek mercy and the victor should grant it. But both must do this boldly, with an 'open countenance,' free of cringing and submissiveness. A 'pure and clean confidence' should characterize the situation on both sides. Montaigne would have found his ideal encounter in the scene that took place in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989, when tanks moved in to supress a demonstration. One man, incongruously carrying an ordinary shopping bag, stood calm and still in front of them; in response, the first tank's driver stopped. Had the man been cowering or trying to escape, or, conversely, had he been yelling and waving his fists, it would have been easier for the driver to kill him. Instead, the man's 'pure and clean confidence' brought out a similar resolution in his opponent."
June 5, 1989, Tiananmen Square:

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