Question of the Day

Is it better for a cox to be feared or loved?

To quote Machiavelli…

“Here a question arises: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse. The answer is, of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.

It is much safer to be feared than loved because … love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.”

I had to write a paper on this question for a philosophy class I took in college and even though my professor had no idea what I was talking about, I used coxing as an example, supported by Machiavelli’s quotes from “The Prince”.

I used slightly contradicting but still relevant examples from Julius Caesar as well. He was loved by members of the army but wanted to be feared by the general public and senate, whom he didn’t trust. My professor described this part in layman’s terms as “if they aren’t with you or if they won’t follow you, at least they’ll be afraid of you”.

To summarize, I agree with both Machiavelli and Caesar. It is safer to be feared because the thought of disappointment or punishment in return is stronger than the obligation of love, BUT it is also better, to an extent, to be loved by those closest to you (via a sense of loyalty or camaraderie) and feared by those who aren’t with you (say, an opposing team or boat). I hope that makes sense – love with a healthy sense of fear from your crew and 100% fear from your opponents.

You could also take the Michael Scott approach…

“Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”



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