The day ahead doesn’t take long to rehearse in my mind. Coffee with a friend, must remember to buy biscuits en route, because I didn’t yesterday due to rash swearing off of sweet stuff as part of Stoic week. Some domestic tasks. A rather tedious Inland Revenue form to fill in. Phone an aunt. Re-loan my Kiva funds. Not a lot to go wrong there (with the exception of the computer printer). Should be some time to return to the 1875 will too — I’m almost at the exciting bit where my great-great-great uncle distributes his oil paintings.
The Stoic virtue of Justice. This is one of the aspects of Stoicism that attract me, because I prefer Justice to the Christian virtue of Forgiveness. If you are going to forgive your enemies then you should give them a fair trial first and decide whether there is anything to forgive, but that line is missing from the Lord’s Prayer; it doesn’t say
“we will consider carefully whether those we feel offended by are actually at fault, or whether we are just being touchy and paranoid, but if they hath trespassed against us, we forgive them”.
No, it just goes straight to the forgiving, like finding someone guilty without a trial, but then giving them a conditional discharge.
And the morning text for today is Meditations 2.1, my favourite, but not a passage I’m completely uncritical of either. A therapist once said to me that I adopted a stance of emotional superiority to others. It was a shock to hear that, because I wasn’t conscious of feeling superior at all, in any way. I go through life constantly battling a feeling that I am, somehow, less than everyone else. But I realised there was truth in it. In trying to understand other people I was also kidding myself that I had a better handle on them, than they had on me. Marcus is doing something similar in this passage. Other people are ignorant of good and evil, but he isn’t.
You have to feel, though, that this was a very good attitude for a Roman Emperor to adopt, and the reason he is remembered as one of the good guys. On the other hand, Meditations reads like a modern text, and that makes it easy to forget that Marcus was a Roman Emperor. His column shows his troops presenting him with the heads of barbarians.
Today, however, I think it is very unlikely that I will meet people who are “meddling, ungrateful, aggressive, treacherous, malicious and unsocial.” Well, not unless I have to ring the Inland Revenue about that form.