Taoteching 24

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The apprentice Gabhopper asked, "M'Lady, should I try to appease everyone who asks something of me?"

"Dear disciple," Xena replied, "if you grant every request that comes up you will reap the immediate well-thinking of the supplicants, but eventually some of these requests will conflict with each other and in the end you will not be able to provide everything they clamor for."

"Surely, m'Lady Xena, if I try my best they cannot blame me!"

"You will be seen as dithering and waffling, and without character, and soon no one will trust you at all."

"Then should I refuse everyone who asks something of me?"

"You should refuse instead the self-flattery and visions of fame that motivates many givers."

"M'Lady, are those motives bad, if one is seen by others as generous?"

"It is not bad to have a reputation of generosity, it is bad to have an over-inflated reputation of generosity."

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Strangers In Paradise