On Stoicism


“I may wish to be free from torture, but if the time comes for me to endure it, I’ll wish to bear it courageously with bravery and honor. Wouldn’t I prefer not to fall into war? But if war does befall me, I’ll wish to carry nobly the wounds, starvation, and other necessities of war. Neither am I so crazy as to desire illness, but if I must suffer illness, I’ll wish to do nothing rash or dishonorable. The point is not to wish for these adversities, but for the virtue that makes adversities bearable.”


President James Garfield was a great man who faced a divided country and party during his brief time in office. He was prepared to stand firm in the face of difficulty, which is the lesson that Seneca is conveying. We should not seek out difficulty, but be prepared to face it when it arrives, just as we would be ready to welcome an important guest.

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