Saturday, 24 May 2014

Darling Lilli

From her chapter I Say What I Think in the book Words to Live By, published in 1947:
My mother was born on the river Rhine, where people are gay and easygoing, where they drink much wine and don’t care who likes them. When I was a child I often heard from her a healthy warning, especially when I came crying that someone didn’t like me and demanding to know what I could do to make him or her like me.

“Everybody’s friend is everybody’s fool,” she would say serenely; or sometimes, “Many enemies mean much honour,” or “Where there’s much sun there’s much shadow.”

I have interpreted those ideas in my own way. I don’t set out to antagonize people, or to be aggressive or provocative, but I have never made a special concession just for the purpose of being liked. I’ve spoken my mind even when I knew that what I said might be unpopular, because I believe that to speak your mind is essential, to take part in a controversy is important. It has never been my nature to sit back and keep quiet for fear of treading on somebody’s toes.

The danger of being too sensitive to what others think is strongly illustrated in the play Death of a Salesman. The author makes an important cause of the demoralization of his hero the fact that he cared too much whether he was well liked. He was afraid ever to make an enemy, and this hastened his destruction.

My mother made me immune to that fear in early youth. You can’t go through life only making friends, I realized very soon.

If, for a good cause, you must make an enemy, accept the fact. As long as your conscience is clear, you will find that you have strengthened not only your determination but your character.
Wise words from the beauteous Lilli Palmer, born Lilli Marie Peiser one hundred years ago today.

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