Don’t Blame the Lettuce


“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.”

                                                                                                                               — Thích Nhất Hạnh

5 thoughts on “Don’t Blame the Lettuce

  1. This is good. I’d throw in the caveat that this doesn’t apply if, for example, the other person has sociopathic tendencies. In that case, it may be better to uproot the plant altogether, to continue the analogy.

    • Perhaps you’re right. I won’t defend the quote completely. I think there are some pretty big limitations when comparing humans and lettuce 🙂 A couple of examples: motility and agency. But I think we both like it for the same reasons — the emphasis on the conditions around the person (or the lettuce) needed to help it develop, as well as trying to understand and transcend the desire to blame the lettuce.

      Besides, we all know it was the tomato’s fault.

  2. Let’s look at this from the point of view of the lettuce. Spawned into exploitation, a short life where anything enjoyable like manure or sunshine and water is given only to promote rapid maturity and hasten the final objective: being eaten by the hand that feeds. Lettuces of the world unite ~refuse to fatten yourself for the exploiter, take control of your own destiny, make common cause with the caterpillar…

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