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The Spark of the Stoics

Epictetus.

1,447 words

Philosophy is a subject that never really sparked my interest. While I understand that philosophy is important to living a virtuous life, I simply think that virtue and morality are useless if you are forced to live around people that do not share your same morals and virtues. This is the situation that white people are now facing in our own countries. For the past two weeks, we have seen countless videos of white people being randomly attacked, beaten, and murdered. Yet despite the inevitable feelings of anger and hopelessness, the writings of the Stoic philosophers can give white advocates some clarity and wisdom during these difficult times of societal collapse and racial persecution.

I am not an expert on philosophy, but I have attempted to read various philosophical works from Plato to Nietzsche. I admit that the introductions and biographies of these philosophers (which were always included in the Penguin Classics editions) were more interesting to me than reading their actual philosophies. I guess I found their lives more exciting than the endless paragraphs on existentialism and “consciousness.”

However, I did enjoy reading the collected works of the Stoic philosophers from the Roman period. These writings put philosophical ideas in the form of short quotes that the average person could implement in their daily lives. I do not consider myself the biggest proponent of Stoic philosophy and there are a few viewpoints from these philosophers that I fundamentally disagree with. Nevertheless, their works have helped me manage my thoughts, emotions, and actions over these last two weeks.

Seneca the Younger was a Roman politician, writer, and philosopher. After a successful but controversial career in the Roman senate, Seneca became Nero’s advisor from 54 to 62 AD. By 62 AD, Seneca’s influence had declined, and he used the next three years to focus on his writings before committing suicide (over his alleged involvement in Nero’s assassination attempt) in 65 AD. It was during his final years that Seneca composed Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (“Moral Letters to Lucilius” in Latin), known in modern times as Letters from a Stoic.

Letters from a Stoic is a collection of over 100 letters that Seneca wrote to Procurator Lucilius of Sicily. The letters were addressed to Lucilius, but it is evident that Seneca wrote the letters for a large audience. In these letters, Seneca gives advice on maintaining virtue in the actions of daily life. Such topics include advice on dealing with distractions, health issues, and how to better treat people. The letters often start with an observation of a minor incident but then digress into larger issues of wisdom, justice, courage, and temperance (a mixture of self-control, discipline, and modesty).

The best advice I gained from reading Seneca was to exercise my mind daily, learn the art of contentment, and to boldly face the struggles in life. While the attacks on white people have made my blood boil numerous times these last two weeks, I have been able to calm myself down by continuing my daily language studies, appreciating the things I have, and focusing on finding solutions instead of dwelling on the problems:

The important thing about a problem is not only its solution, but the strength we gain in finding the solution.

Epictetus was a stoic philosopher who was born a slave in Hierapolis, Phrygia (modern-day Turkey) around 50 AD. He eventually gained freedom after the death of Nero in 68 AD and started to teach philosophy in Rome. In 93 AD, Emperor Domitian banished all the philosophers from Rome, so Epictetus went to Nicopolis, Greece, and founded his own school of philosophy. One of his students was Arrian, and this student took detailed notes of Epictetus’ lectures. These notes would form the two major collections of Epictetus’ philosophy: the Discourses of Epictetus and the Enchiridion (“handbook” in Greek).

Enchiridion is like a short manual that attempts to provide ethical philosophy and advice with the goal of maintaining mental freedom and happiness in everyday life. It consists of 53 short chapters with each chapter being a few paragraphs. Epictetus draws a clear distinction between our thoughts and emotions — which we control — and the external world, which is often beyond our control.

Epictetus also explains that what happens to us is not as important as how we react to what happens to us. I had to remind myself these last two weeks to not to lose my temper when I see our cities burning, our statues vandalized, and our people attacked on the streets. We need to inform our family and friends about what is happening, and we need to be serious with them about the threats to their safety. Yet we also need to do this in a calm and rational manner. As Epictetus states:

No matter what happens, it is within my power to turn it to my advantage.

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 AD. Despite being the last of what Machiavelli called the “Five Good Emperors,” the reign of Aurelius consisted of numerous military conflicts and a major outbreak of disease, known as the Antonine Plague. It was during these conflicts and outbreaks that Aurelius wrote private notes for himself on the ideas of Stoic philosophy. Unlike the works of Seneca and Epictetus, it is unclear whether these personal writings of Aurelius were ever meant to be published or shared with a larger audience. With no apparent title, this collection of writings was translated and preserved through the ages under various names and editions. The collection is now known today as the Meditations.

Meditations is divided into 12 books that chronicle the different periods of Aurelius’ life. A central theme is the importance of finding one’s purpose in the universe while striving towards ethical goals and ideals. At the same time, Aurelius reminds us that life is short, and that we should always try to make the most of our time on earth. As with Seneca and Epictetus, Aurelius also encourages us to manage our thoughts and emotions:

You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.

I want to live and enjoy my time on earth. I want to focus on my purpose and goals while appreciating all the things I have in life. But I cannot do those things if I must constantly live in fear of my own safety. I am tired of seeing our cities burn. I am tired of seeing our statues torn down. I am sick and tired of seeing videos of white people being assaulted and attacked by non-whites. The police can no longer protect us. Our governments and politicians no longer represent us. Most corporations are supporting our enemies while firing any white employees that question or criticize the anti-white terrorist groups that are BLM and Antifa. White people should not have to live like this. We cannot live like this.

The Stoic philosophers remind us that while there will always be things out of our control, we can at least control or thoughts, opinions, and personal actions. We should count our blessings and appreciate the things we have while we still have them. Sometimes we need to ignore what our enemies say and do and stay focused on our own goals and purpose. This does not mean that we should detach ourselves from our feelings and emotions. This does not mean that we should ignore the severity of societal collapse and racial persecution. It simply means that we can maintain a balance between hoping for the best and preparing for the worst while still finding time to be happy and enjoy life.

Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius noted that our reality is often shaped by our own thoughts and opinions. It is only natural to have feelings of anger and fear during these horrific times. Yet we need to maintain hope for the future and stay positive. Sometimes the only people stopping us from changing the world are ourselves. Who knows what we can or cannot change until we try to change it? We can start by protecting ourselves, our family, and our friends. We can form our own communities, neighborhoods, and businesses. We can have ethnic sovereignty with white solidarity. And until white lives matter, nothing else matters.

That is a philosophy that sparks my interest.

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