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What did Voltaire mean with his gardening advice? That we must keep a good distance between ourselves and the world, because taking too close an interest in politics or public opinion (what people are talking about) these things are a fast route to aggravation and danger and mental unwellness. We should know enough at this point that humans are just troublesome and will never achieve, at a state level, anything like the degree of logic and goodness and kindness we so long for. We should never tie our personal moods to the condition of a whole nation or people in general. Otherwise, we would be set to weep continuously

Why Voltaire Said: You Must Cultivate Your Own Garden The School of Life
Honir 4 Sep 22

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Your cut and paste from the script of that video is sheer genius, at least as insightful as Voltaire's risible observation that if god did not exist man would have had to invent him.

Is tomorrow's lesson be good to your mother?


Instructive to remember that Voltaire had a really nice garden. A REALLY nice garden ...


I have a vague interest in Voltaire. I like some of his quotes I have seen. But as with much, they are open to interpretation. I think he was brilliant, but Hey! Just my interpretation.

It is basic serenity "prayer" principles, to focus one's energies first on the personally achievable, then to accept what is out of our control, and crucially, thirdly to seek the wisdom to discern what is out of our control but also what is within our power or sphere of influence.

When it comes to world events, politics, etc., it is not that we should ignore them entirely. To do that would leave the control of the world entirely to selfish, dangerous people. But we need to seek discernment into how best to invest our limited personal energy, time, and effort, so as not to doom ourselves to frustrating futility. Tending our own garden, to me means, NOT putting on blinders as to what is happening in the wider world, but instead to be anchored first emotionally in self-care so that we don't burn ourselves out. When we are grounded, we find we have a healthy foundation from which to reach out and show kindness, aid, even inventiveness, to others.

In Voltaire's story, the wise gardener still showed kindness to the traveling strangers. He was neither a hermit nor uncaring. We don't need to ignore the world to take care of ourselves. We just need to remember not to get so caught up in it that we lose our sense of self and sense of hope for our personal lives.

Think you put it better actually.


No I do not agree. Voltaire's garden was not about a self absorbed, turn your back on the world, egocentric search for personal happiness at all. As the narrator implies. You have to remember that the main acts of the Turk and his family in the book, were those of hospitality, and improving with kindness the lives of three strangers. What Voltaire is really saying, is that the world would be a far better place, if everyone tried, even just a little, to make a positive contribution, that is our humane duty. Which contribution they could be sure was positive, however small, and that they could do well, rather than grand schemes which they could never truly control, and which are bound to fall at the the hurdle of unforeseen consequences. Nor is it an anti optimistic statement, quite the contrary it is a respectful and admiring statement about the value of many small contributions.

( It was also specifically addressing a then fashionable philosophy, that this world though sometimes horrible was the best that could be made, especially as a testing place for sinful souls of course. But that is historical and by the by.)

Hey! I like how you think! Lol 🌞
When I started my response, I got interrupted for a couple hours, came back to it and posted it, only to see in the meantime you had rendered me somewhat redundant. But you made me smile, at least, lol.

@MikeInBatonRouge Thank you. Sorry to steal your thunder, but pleased to make you smile.

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