Saturday, 8 June 2013

Unhurt and Unangered

But I, having understood the nature of the Good, that it is beautiful, and the nature of the Evil, that it is ugly, and the nature of the sinner himself, that he is my kinsman, not necessarily sharing the same blood and seed as myself, but sharing in the same intelligence and morsel of the Divine, I can neither be hurt by any of them (for nobody can involve me in what is base), nor can I be angry with my kinsman or hate him.

                                              - Meditations 2:1

     The Stoic can remind himself at daybreak, as Marcus did, that he cannot be hurt or angered by the actions of the wrong-doers that he will certainly meet throughout the day for three reasons:
     1) The wrong-doer is confused.  He does not understand the nature of the Good and Evil, that only Virtue is good and thus beneficial to him, and that only Vice is evil and thus harmful to him.  He does not know where true Beauty and Ugliness lie, and thus he strives after the wrong objects, living in a constant state of confusion.  This is why he commits wrong-doing.  It is more suitable for the Stoic to pity such a man, than to be wroth with him. [This, of course, does not mean that Justice should not be pursued when a wrong in committed.  Justice is one of the primary Virtues of Stoicism.  But Justice can and should be pursued without Anger.  Virtue has nothing to do with Vice.]
     2) The wrong-doer has no real power to hurt the Stoic.  Having understood the nature of the Good and the Evil, that only Virtue benefits and only Vice harms and that these two things are within one's own and exclusive control, the Stoic knows that he cannot be truly harmed by another, only by himself. 
     3) The wrong-doer is the Stoic's kinsman.  The ancient Stoic believed that all members of Mankind were partakers in the Divine, that the reasoning faculty within us was connected to the very intelligence of God, part of the Divine Logos that permeates the Universe and is in fact the mind of the Universe, conscious and fully providential.  As we all share in the mind of God, we are all kinsman, even if not by blood.  It is the perverse man who hates his kinsman.  What is more, for the Stoic, such hatred borders on impiety as it is hatred, in a sense, that is directed against the Divine.