I’ve met a lot of people with impressive skills, but the most remarkable ones were those who were well aware of their limitations. That was the case with Disraeli and this anecdote about writing jokes:
Legend says that William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli, both having played sort of a ping-pong game for years being prime ministers of the UK, were chatting late at night in Disraeli’s studio.
Gladstone mentioned his colleague’s joke writing skills, and the other scoffed with a humble gesture. “I’m sure you could write a joke about any subject”, said the first.
“Yes, it is quite possible”, was the not-so-humble but playful reply. After all, it was Disraeli who was credited with saying “If Gladstone fell into the Thames, that would be misfortune; and if anybody pulled him out, that, I suppose, would be a calamity”
Then Gladstone said, “Let’s see… can you come up with a joke about Queen Victoria?”
Disraeli’s face became serious instantly. “I’m afraid I cannot, dear sir”.
“But why is that?”
“Because Her Majesty is not a subject”, was the reply.
Now, I’ve mentioned a couple times that I like Zen riddles and koans… and this British anecdote is as Zen as it gets. But in this case, the riddle can be explained.
It is known that Disraeli and Queen Victoria had a very close professional relationship, pretty much like Churchill and Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth. So, my best guess is that Disraeli declined Gladstone’s request out of respect, even if the monarch not being even remotely in the vicinity of the conversation.
Saying that “Her Majesty is not a subject”, is an exercise in honor that defies even Japanese traditions. As in, Disraeli was not afraid to test the blade of his wit, but there were topics that were just out of bounds. Not because of lack of skills, but of principles.
You can tell that the XIX century was a different era; such attitude over just a private joke is something that would be hard to explain today. But only because we have lost that sense of respect.
Note that I say “we”, in the sense that this is how I perceive society.
And that reminds me of a famous quote: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
Nope, that’s not from any scientist from history… that’s straight out of ‘Jurassic Park’.
And I have to plead guilty to this.
I have been guilty countless times of trying to prove that I’m smart. And it was not long ago… we are talking around 2019, give or take.
I was not afraid to throw anyone to the Twitter wolves if they dared to argue with my ideas.
That was reckless on my part, because when you amass a following of a certain size, you need to be accountable and responsible for how you use that power.
And yes, I fumbled it more than a few times, just for the sake of insecurity poorly disguised as smarts.
Fortunately, life had a way to teach me you have to be humble and kind most of the time.
(That is, until a true SOB comes around… then I go all in LOL)
But no, really, I know I’m not perfect but in stories like Disraeli’s I see The Way.
Yes, I like satire and parody. And someone has to be on the receiving end of the stick, right?
But one thing is a powerful politician or celebrity narcissist, and a much different one is an anon on the internet.
You know what’s funny (like Disraeli’s jokes)? that in the end it was just aggression against myself that I was projecting on others.
In other words, I could not be really kind to others if I was not kind to myself first.
Honor and Kindness have a close relationship. One that is easily broken by arrogance and insecurity.
Will leave you with one last thought: “It is the weak who are cruel. Only the strong can be truly gentle”.
Reflect upon this.
Much Love and Bliss,
The Body Language Guy.
P.S. Remember to download my 100+ body language tips, here: https://knesix.com/tips