"Be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting a great battle."
—Gloria Vanderbilt, quoted by her son Anderson Cooper on Late Night with David Letterman, Nov. 19th, 2013
Everyone's life is a struggle when seen from the inside, is what she's saying, I think. So we might as well be kind to one another, out of sympathy and acknowledgement of each person's struggles with his or her own difficulties.
A nice thought.
UPDATE: Quote Investigator notes that this is often attributed to Plato and sometimes Philo of Alexandria, i.e., to "generic ancient sage." But the quote probably traces back to Scottish author Ian MacLaren, who said "Be pitiful, for every man is fighting a hard battle"—"pitiful" used in the anachronistic sense of "compassionate, merciful, tender," and (ahem) "man" in the sense of "person."
"Ian MacLaren" was the pen name of Rev. John Watson, who, in 1903, writing under his own name, said, "This man beside us also has a hard fight with an unfavouring world, with strong temptations, with doubts and fears, with wounds of the past which have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched. It is a fact, however surprising. And when this occurs to us we are moved to deal kindly with him, to bid him be of good cheer, to let him understand that we are also fighting a battle; we are bound not to irritate him, nor press hardly upon him nor help his lower self."
(Thanks to Ade for this.)
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Featured Comments from:
Geoff Wittig: "That is so painfully true. As a family doctor, on a daily basis I am astonished by the strength and fortitude of average folks, and by the surprising number of your friends and neighbors who are contending, with quiet dignity, with genuine tragedies in their lives. You just never know when a kind word will make all the difference in someone's week. Or when a casual dismissal or insensitive slight will heap insult on top of injury."