Friday, 17 May 2013

Not Under Our Control

Not under our control are our body, our possessions and property, our reputation, our political office - simply put, the things which are not our own works.
                                                                                            - Encheiridion, 1:1

     No amount of healthy food and exercise will protect our frail bodies from sudden illness or   make us any less mortal.  We can take meticulous care of our property, but it will still be at the mercy of fire, natural disasters, war, theft and vandals.  We can have the most noble of characters and still be widely slandered.  Hard work and excellence in our fields is no guarantee of career advancement, and public office is especially a fickle, thankless and potentially cruel thing.    
     What then?  Because these things are not under our control, should we stop eating and bathing, treat our property with neglect, sabotage our own good names through shameless behaviour, or shun public life?  Far from it!  Stoicism teaches that Natures bids us to take care of our bodies and possessions; to act with proper propriety and decorum; and to die in active duty as citizens.  These are part of the natural duties of mankind.
     We must recognise, though, that ultimately we cannot control the outcomes of the our diligent fulfilment of these natural duties.  We can only control our reactions to them.