America | Culture | Politics | Stoicism

The Waves of Change

“The first thing to do—don’t get worked up. For everything happens according to the nature of all things, and in a short time you’ll be nobody and nowhere, even as the great emperors Hadrian and Augustus are now. The next thing to do—consider carefully the task at hand for what it is, while remembering that your purpose is to be a good human being. Get straight to doing what nature requires of you, and speak as you see most just and fitting—with kindness, modesty, and sincerity.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

The world is in a state of change, and countless people are raising their voice to say that this reality, the way we are right now, it will not stand.  Will we be the better for having endured the tumultuous waves washing over us?  Or will we drown in the chaos?  That often depends on how we react in the moment.  When the world get’s a bit overwhelming, and let’s face it, the world is a little overwhelming at this moment, I turn back to stoicism, take long walks, and write more.  In short, I sort out how I want to react to the world around me.  Instead of getting angry at injustice, despair at suffering, or frustrated at apathy, I must absorb the reality and choose how to react.  Like waves crashing over you in heavy surf, you’ve got to get your feet underneath you to absorb the blows, but also know when to duck under the big waves so you aren’t knocked down for the count.  2020 is bringing some pretty heavy surf.

“If, at some point in your life, you should come across anything better than justice, honesty, self-control, courage – than a mind satisfied that it has succeeded in enabling you to act rationally, and satisfied to accept what’s beyond it’s control – if you find anything better than that, embrace it without reservations – it must be an extraordinary thing indeed – and enjoy it to the full. – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Justice, honesty, self-control and courage, acting rationally and accepting what isn’t in your control…  That’s stoicism.  And a good place to set your feet as the waves crash over.  At some point this storm will abate.  Will the storm shift the landscape enough for meaningful change, or will there be more storms in the future? Will we be the better for having endured?  I can’t change the landscape, and I can’t change the storm, but I can choose how I react to it, and to act in small, meaningful ways that cast a vote for what I want to see in the world today and tomorrow.  To be a good human being and a steadying influence to help others find their footing.  To set my feet and rise to the occasion.  That seems to me a good starting point.

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