Knowing How To Listen to Insults

In a kingdom of Arabia lived a queen called Layla. Her wisdom illuminated the land like the sun, her beauty blinded men, and her wealth was greater than any of her subjects.

One morning, her chief advisor asked to see her, and said:
Great queen Layla! You are the wisest, most beautiful and wealthiest women in the world. But I have heard unpleasant things; some people laugh at or complain about your decisions. Why, in spite of all you have done for your subjects, are they still not content?

The queen laughed and replied:

Loyal advisor, you know how much I have done for my kingdom. Seven regions are under my control, and all of them have enjoyed peace and prosperity. In all the towns, the decisions of my court are just and inspired.

I can do almost everything I wish. I can order the frontiers to be closed, the gates of the palace to be locked, the treasury coffers sealed indefinitely.

But there is one thing I cannot do: make the people shut their mouths. It matters not what false things people say; the important thing is to continue to do that which I consider to be true.

Paulo Coelho is a Brazilian author who has sold more than 100 million books, which include 14 short story collections and the novel “The Alchemist.” He has been a fan of the Internet since the early 1990s. He spends at least three hours a day online, writing e-mails back and forth with his readers and posting photos on Flickr, MySpace and a blog.

Coelho’s online activities also include promoting pirated copies of his own books. Since 2005 he’s been directing his readers to an online site where they can download his books, in languages from German to Japanese, for free. “I always thought that when, at the beginning of your career, you strive to be read, you can’t change your mind later and become greedy about it.”

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