After yesterday’s incident and last night’s post I decided to read some of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations for some perspective, specifically Book 3. A few quotes stuck with me and I’m sure I’ve seen them before in some bitesize format on an Instagram post but this time they seemed to stick.
“Remove the judgement, and you have removed the thought ‘I am hurt’: remove the thought ‘I am hurt’, and the hurt itself is removed.”
“When someone does you wrong, do not judge things as he interprets them or would like you to interpret them. Just see them as they are, in plain truth.”
Easier said than done, no? I think that both faith in self and universe as well as time is key here to stop myself from calling Marc a patronizing dick. But thinking about it rationally, the man was the Emperor of Ancient Rome. In comparison to the problems and enemies of the common 21st century plebian such as myself, his resolve is far more impressive than any belly aching I can muster. He’s right, of course. I’m following his advice this moment from Book 2:
“Do externals distract you? Then give yourself the space to learn some further good lesson, and stop your wandering.”
Translation: get some headspace, you’ll feel better and will have learned something. Again, he’s right.
His thoughts reminded me of another book I’ve recently read: Criminology: A complete introduction by Dr Peter Joyce. Something that I found relevant was the quote from J Kituse:
“One view of deviance emphasizes the importance of social reaction – how an action is interpreted and reacted to by others.”
This idea was expanded when Dr Joyce wrote:
“Defining deviance in terms of reaction to an act is that this reaction is likely to alter over time.”
This suggests to me that deviance (as in the perceived act of wrong doing towards the individual, in this case myself) is only definable by the reaction to the act. In this sense, if I do not react or my reaction is of a stoic nature, then no deviant act has been committed. It would be a dis-preferred act most definitely. Furthermore in the philosophical sense rather than the socio-political sense that Dr Joyce was talking about, perhaps over time the dis-preferred act would simply be relegated to just an act that happened.
Obviously this throws up some moral issues about right and wrong but even then, right and wrong is a rigged system based on all sorts of social, historical, cultural and political factors. Yet on the personal scale, on my own stoic path, I’m inclined to see no act as truly deviant when committed against me. Annoying yes, dis-preferred yes, but ultimately what I interpret acts as makes them what they are. It what makes my experience wholly unique like any other person’s experience.
I read somewhere a quote from either Socrates or Epictetus, I can’t remember:
“Anytus and Meletus can kill me but they cannot harm me…”
For more on criminology, I recommend the book by Dr Peter Joyce linked here: