“Whatever anyone does or says, I must be a good man. It is as if an emerald, or gold or purple, were always saying: ‘Whatever anyone does or says, I must be an emerald, and keep my own colour.’”– Marcus Aurelius
This is always a timely reminder. It again boils down to the question of what is our power and what is not.
We have no control over what others say or do. We can influence them, and other circumstances a bit, but have no control.
However, how good (or bad) man I am, is up to me. It is my job to police this thing, and the person who is in the center of those choices.
It says: “Whatever anyone does or says…”
It does not say: “As long as others are not super-annoying, I must be a good man…”
Whatever anyone does or says.
Again as always; easier said than done! That is why we practice, day to day, for a long time.
I have encountered this attitude in others and been guilty of it myself: thinking that if this happens, I must respond with these feelings, or with this action.
So this leads to a weird roller-coaster of emotional responses, where everything else goes except taking personal responsibility.
- If someone cuts me on the line, I must yell and become a neanderthal.
- If someone speaks disrespectfully to me, I must retaliate.
- If the government cuts spending, surely my life is ruined and no point trying anymore.
- If I encounter a disappointment, I can not help being a dick to others.
- If I encounter hardships, it must be that everything and everyone is against me and I must speak bitterly.
If you believe that the ideas of the old Stoics have value, then pay attention: It says there “Whatever anyone does or says…”
Keep your colour.