“We can learn from stoicism without embracing it’s strict letter. This human side of stoicism can toughen us without robbing us of our humanity.” — Nancy Sherman
Nancy Sherman is a philosophy professor at Georgetown University. She’s studied philosophies from many different parts of the world, stoicism being one of them.
I think this quote is important because it reaches out to those that think stoicism is too callous and emotionless for them. It reminds them that there’s still valuable lessons there for them, and it’s not a great idea to dismiss it simply because of one or two things you disagree with. Everything has wisdom, whether we like it or not. The key is to find out how that wisdom applies to your life.
Realistically, it doesn’t feel good to ignore your emotions and tell yourself that everything is okay — especially when it isn’t. What stoicism CAN bring us however, is the knowledge that most things don’t have underlying meanings. Yes means yes, not “well I felt guilty about saying no and I almost still said it but decided to say yes to be nice.” Just like no means no — I don’t need to explain that one. Stoicism can help those who are naturally submissive become more aggressive because they’ll begin to understand that it’s better for everybody involved when you simply speak what’s on your mind.
It’s worth clarifying that aggression doesn’t mean violence. It simply means making the first move, or at least making a move before your enemy does. Your enemy could be anything: laziness, exhaustion, hunger, thirst, lack of discipline, negativity… the list goes on and on. Aggression isn’t a bad thing, it’s just looked down upon because some people who are bad people ruined it for the rest of us.
Look for wisdom. It’s everywhere you haven’t looked, but also everywhere you have.
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