Today, I went to my local mall, as I was walking through the mall and all of the dead shops inside I passed by a small table and some people handing out pamphlets for the Special Olympics. Before I could catch myself I judged that the interaction was going to be unpleasant and had concocted a convenient lie to get through it. As I approached the table the woman spoke and I blurted out my lie, (something to the effect that I had a cousin and I was a regular supporter). After that she said thank you and we went on and the interaction was over. Except it wasn't, not only did I act without virtue, I had missed an opportunity to do something to make the world better.
It nagged at me, all these months of studying virtue and journalling about my desires to live a Stoic life and when a tiny moment of opportunity came I didn't just blink, I dropped my sword and ran away. I will reflect on this for a while to come and all the things I can learn from it. I came home and made a donation to Special Olympics online. A very small gesture for a very worthy cause.
There are no little white lies, you either are virtuous or you are not. Today, I am not.... but I still want to be.
"Every nature is contented with itself when it goes on its way well; and a rational nature goes on its way well, when in its thoughts it assents to nothing false or uncertain, and when it directs its movements to social acts only, and when it confines its desires and aversions to the things which are in its power, and when it is satisfied with everything that is assigned to it by the common nature. For of this common nature every particular nature is a part, as the nature of the leaf is a part of the nature of the plant; except that in the plant the nature of the leaf is part of a nature which has not perception or reason, and is subject to be impeded; but the nature of man is part of a nature which is not subject to impediments, and is intelligent and just, since it gives to everything in equal portions and according to its worth, times, substance, cause (form), activity, and incident. But examine, not to discover that any one thing compared with any other single thing is equal in all respects, but by taking all the parts together of one thing and comparing them with all the parts together of another."
Marcus lays out exactly how one can live in aggreement with nature here. It is a plain and simple explanation with profound impact. I will meditatate on these words each day and live by them.
- I will give assent to nothing false or uncertain.
- I will direct my actions to the social good.
- I will direct my desires and passion to only what is in my power.
- I will be satisfied with what nature has put before me.