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Do with “genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly”
John Bradford, the Sixteenth Century English Reformer, was a humble man. He was the Chaplain to King Edward VI. Yet, it is said that, whenever he saw a criminal led to his execution, Bradford would exclaim,
There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford!
How can Stoic philosophy help us understand what it means to be free? It’s a question that has preoccupied Stoics both ancient and modern.
As ‘the year like no other’ comes to a close, we may want to reflect on our lives so we may steer them better in the new year. In this issue of THE STOIC, our contributors provide excellent perspectives on living a better life, no matter what we have been through this year.
“There is no actual tomorrow.” My daughter said this to me as we talked about the way people experience time. It’s true: We’re always living in the right now, today. And we always seem to imagine that tomorrow will be just the same as today.
Happiness, wealth, and power
We can all think of people in public life who have accomplished big things and earned wide recognition, wealth, and power, even reaching the highest political offices or C-suite jobs.
Turning ourselves into better humans
The study of how to turn ourselves into better humans sometimes suffers from a lack of “hard evidence.” I am a science writer, and I always look for quantitative as well as qualitative data when evaluating any practice or behavior.
A curious philosophy
Stoicism is a curious philosophy. At its core is the strong conviction that we need nothing and need no one to be happy. Epictetus clearly summarizes this conviction.
Living in challenging times
We are living in challenging times. As Covid-19 continues to ravage wide sections of the globe, many of us are experiencing social isolation, and much worse.
How do we react when unexpected things—such as a job loss or a health problem—happen to us? How do we react to predictable daily events? We often react to events in a way that causes more misery. Many people get depressed by they way they habitually react to things.
Stressed and struggling - Many adults today are stressed and struggling as they cope with the global pandemic and its consequences. Kids, too, have a lot of reasons to be upset. Frustration comes naturally to kids, especially when they are stuck in their homes subject to new rules and restrictions.
Now that you have found this message in a bottle, I invite you to open your mind to a new way of looking at the world: through the perspective of Stoic philosophy. Stoic approaches can help you get through many challenges in life while cultivating your character.
Never say about anything, “I’ve lost it,” but rather, “I’ve given it back.” … What does it matter to you through what person the one who gave it to you demanded it back? So long as he entrusts it to you, take care of it as something that isn’t your own, as travelers treat an inn. Epictetus, Enchiridion, 11
Long ago, a thirty-something philosopher strode up the steps of a porch on the north end of the Athenian agora. It was the meeting place for all and sundry—jugglers, fire eaters, vendors, fishmongers, beggars, hawkers, and layabouts. The porch was decorated with beautiful paintings but it was also tainted with human blood. It was the site where hundreds had been executed.
We all face many uncertain times in our lives. But the current pandemic is a time of collective uncertainty, the like of which most of us have never experienced. What has Stoicism got to say in coping with a situation that is so uncertain? Our contributing editor Meredith A. Kunz offers a three-step plan based on Stoic principles to cope with uncertainty.
Chuck Chakrapani, Editor