Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Quote of the Day in the Montreal Gazette

by Rob - November 27th, 2010.
Filed under: Uncategorized.

Every day, the front page of The Montreal Gazette, the major English-language daily paper in Montreal, contains a “Quote of the Day,” and on Thursday, November 25, 2010, the quote was from me:

“Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace” — Robert J. Sawyer
The quote is from Chapter 14 of my novel Calculating God. Tom Jericho, a human paleontologist, is being introduced to the ethical system of the alien Wreeds by a member of a different alien species, his friend Hollus the Forhilnor:
I laughed. “Oh, I know that. But that’s not the question. I think Marilyn is lovely, but, well, she’s quite curvy — zaftig, even. And she doesn’t exercise. Now, Bill keeps bugging Marilyn to go to the gym. Marilyn wants him to stop picking on her, saying he should accept her the way she is. And Bill, says, `Well, you know, if I should accept your not exercising, then you should accept my wanting to change you — since wanting to change people is a fundamental part of my character.’ Get it? And, of course, Bill says his comments are selfless, motivated by genuine concern for Marilyn’s health.” I paused. The whole thing gives me a headache whenever I think about it; I always end up wanting to say, “Norman, coordinate!” I looked at Hollus. “So who is right?”

“Neither,” said Hollus, at once.

“Neither?” I repeated.

“Exactly. That is an easy one, from a Wreed point of view; because they do not do math, they never treat moral questions as a zero-sum game in which someone must win and someone else must lose. God, the Wreeds would say, wants us to love others as they are and also to struggle to help them fulfill their potential — both should happen simultaneously. Indeed, a core Wreed belief is that our individual purpose in life is to help others become great. Your brother should not vocalize his displeasure at his wife’s weight, but, until he attains that ideal of silence, his wife should ignore the comments; learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace, say the Wreeds. Meanwhile, though, if you are in a loving relationship, and your partner has grown dependent on you, you have an obligation to protect your own health by wearing safety belts in vehicles, by eating well, by exercising, and so on — that is Marilyn’s moral obligation to Bill.”

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2 Responses to Quote of the Day in the Montreal Gazette

  1. Wasn’t the character’s name Tom Jericho?

  2. Fixed! Thanks, Nicholas!

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