Sci-Fi Wisdom: Great Allowance Should Be Made

Today I’d like to share a quote from one of my all-time favorite books: Frank Herbert’s Dune.

When strangers meet, great allowance should be made for differences of custom and training.

This quote comes from the Lady Jessica during the famous dinner party scene that happens fairly early in the novel. It’s probably not among Dune’s most famous lines, but it’s a line that’s stuck with me over the years.

It’s so easy—too easy, in fact—to take offense when no offense was intended. Sometimes it seems as though there are people who are eager to be offended by something just so they have an excuse to lash out at people.

But really, we all come from different backgrounds, with different customs. We’ve all been trained to live by different social rules, and it’s not always clear—especially when meeting someone for the first time—where the boundaries of offensive and inoffensive behavior are being drawn.

I know I’ve said and done things that others found offensive, just as I know I’ve been offended by the things other people say or do. So I try to keep this little nugget of Sci-Fi wisdom in mind whenever someone, whether in real life or here on the Internet, offends me in some way.

Anyway, that’s just my two cents. Feel free to disagree, and if you do I promise not to be offended.

13 thoughts on “Sci-Fi Wisdom: Great Allowance Should Be Made

  1. Good quote. It’s all too easy to cause offence, or take offence, even with people we know. These days, compared with when I was growing up, people are much less likely to say offensive things, and yet they are also much more likely to be offended by things they hear. It’s rather tedious and Victorian, I find.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There is something Victorian about it, isn’t there? It’s like there’s a whole bunch of persnickety etiquette rules that everyone’s just supposed to know, and then people get all indignant when someone uses the wrong spoon for their soup.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. In my experience, the caliber of a person is usually inversely proportional to how easily they can be offended. Put another way, highly effective people are more likely to have control of their emotions, while less effective people are usually controlled by theirs.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is really a great quote. And sometimes I think people are just out there looking for a reason to be offended. Sometimes we all just need to take a breath, chill, and move on to better things in life.


  4. What ever comes next, I hope and believe that there will be a special (good!) place for you, as one of the peacemakers. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thank you. That’s very kind. I don’t know if I’d call myself a peacemaker. I just try (and I’m not always successful at this) to give people the benefit of the doubt, at least at first.


      1. I would absolutely call you a peacemaker: you are advocating a position of tolerance and engaging in non-judgemental discourse with people from different backgrounds and experiences. This can only be a good thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. People don’t know how to pick their battles. It’s not necessary to let everyone know I’m offended when something offends me. Oftentimes I’ll just swallow it and move on, because I know that no offense was intended. It’s all good. It’s almost a cliché at this point to complain about how offended people get now, but I think people have always been easily offended. Yeah difference now is that everyone feels emboldened to “correct” the offender from behind the safety of a phone or computer screen. It’s so unnecessary. Tedious and Victorian, as you say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re probably right about that. People have always been offended by stuff, but I think the also Internet makes it easier to misunderstand what someone’s trying to say, and easier to assume the worst about what they really meant.

      Liked by 1 person

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