Amidst the chaos of our current world, it is easy to curl up in the fetal position, safely tucked away from the madness. To stay in your little bubble world and avoid all that is ugly and crazy around you.
Especially in these times, it is crucial to remember that the Stoics believed that our lives were about everyone — about one community. Before there was globalism, interconnectivity, these ancient masters believed we were all one. The fact that the wise words of 2,000-year-old philosophers can be apropos in this day and age is a testament to the fact that everything changes, yet history is cyclical.
Yet, we complex and intelligent humans often have a short memory and forget what history has taught us.
Even in Marcus Aurelius’ time, the ‘hive mind’ was a thing. The stoics believed in the common good. They believed we are all connected. What affects one, affects all. Regardless of religion, culture, creed or tribe. The Daily Stoic reminds us that “Seneca talked about ‘sympatheia — or the interconnectedness of all people.”
I write this because there has been a shift in our country, similar to the palpable shift in the October 2019 Iraq protests. I began my current position with the United Nations just as the massive anti-government protests started. People from all walks of Iraqi life expressed their shared frustrations. They gathered in squares, often for 10+ hours. Despite heavy, often violent pushback from security forces, they stuck together and held their ground. Not even sound grenades, small arms fire, tear-gas, or rubber bullets deterred them. Young and old, female and male Iraqis all stayed the course. They were resilient and inspiring.
They knew that an injustice to one was an injustice to all.
They put their lives on the line for a better Iraq, despite the loss of thousands of lives.
As I write from Chicago quarantine, protests have upended parts of this great city. Yet, from my confined vantage point, I am feeling a shared sense of humanity brewing — solidarity in the air.
It’s what the Stoics believed and espoused. Events happening to one community, affect all communities. There is much more to unite us than divide us.