“A podium and a prison is each a place, one high and the other low, but in either place your freedom of choice can be maintained if you wish.” – Epictetus, Discourses, 2.6.25
I held off on writing about Thursday and Friday’s meditations on their respective days. Why? The inauguration of Donald Trump. For some, this is a watershed moment in transitioning from politics as usual. They have good reason to want this. For others, it symbolizes the empowering of uncivil leadership. The have good reasons to believe this.
Let me first invoke the words of two artists I admire, for different reasons.
“This is not a love song.” – John Lyndon (Johnny Rotten)
“This is not a rebel song.” – Bono
The next three observations on my Daily Stoic readings…these are not political posts. They exist in a political frame, but they are simply observations on where we go within said frame.
We do not know the future. We do not know if Trump’s policies will adversely impact the environment, the rights of women/LGBTQ or our relations with foreign countries. Isn’t it interesting how they have, thus far, both inspired and dissuaded? Those who see their way of life, including their jobs, disappear perceive a future over which the have no control. Equally, those who hear Trump’s hostility see a world where anger and “might makes right” reigns supreme.
Those on both sides of the debate have been in positions in which they’ve felt empowered and victimized. Yet today’s meditation reminds us that our position is not static. We have the choice of mind to go to a better place. Will there be a struggle? Probably. But remaining mired in your present position will yield no movement.
We have the choice to gloat. We have the choice to riot. We have the choice to perpetuate false binaries. We have the choice to marginalize our opposition. We have the choice to be the change. We have the choice to inspire others.
What will your choice be? What place will you go to? We all put our shoes on one at a time. Whether president or teacher, we have the freedom choice to inspire those around us to be better. In doing so we will receive equal inspiration.