“What matters is not what others think about you, but what you think about others.”
– Meliodas, The Seven Deadly Sins
Season 5, Episode 23, “An Everlasting Kingdom”
This quote comes near the end of the story, where Meliodas, after many, many, many fierce battles, is protecting the rise of a new power and a new generation. He heard this quote himself earlier, but the truth of it is one he’s always lived by. He’s been hated and cast out, feared and scorned by the very people he was fighting to protect, and great powers have been trying to force him into roles he did not want for his entire life. His answer has basically been to just shrug it all off and live as he wants, pursue the dreams that he wants, protect who he wants, and love who he loves no matter the forces that try to tear them apart. Others may laugh or be disdainful or whatever else, but he refuses to let it stop him from caring about others and being happy.
There is a certain profound wisdom in that, I think, and one which we are in dire need of today.
I vaguely remember hearing something about how a person or a small group of people can remain intelligent, but the greater the number of people packed into a room – literal or metaphorical – the lower the level of overall intelligence gets. It rings true enough, as the more people you put together, the more we seem to respond to everything with our lowest, basest instincts, with gossip and rage and judgement and our most emotional, irrational reactions. We’ve been doing that for as long we have interacted with each other, and the downside of the internet and other communication technologies is that a vast swathe of humanity has been shoved together randomly, putting us all up in each others’ faces without any of society’s normal filters to inhibit us.
Thus arises the overwhelming and endless tide of people’s opinions about every last detail about every last thing that we say, do, think, believe, want, wish, and dream. It’s enough to crush most any soul.
But what matters isn’t how this faceless horde sees us. It’s not what they think of us. It’s not even, ultimately, what they do to us, whether they are cruel or kind. That is all beyond our control, and so there is no value in carrying that immense and worthless weight with us.
What matters is what we can control: our words, our actions.
It’s how we treat others, and how we see others – either as monsters or angels or pawns or tools or as people – which really matters.
Which I suppose is just another way of saying, whatever people are saying about you, don’t let it get you down. Just keep living, keep caring, and keep on trucking along. 😉