The Daily Stoic for September 16th, “Anyone Can Get Lucky, Not Everyone Can Persevere”.
“Success comes to the lowly and to the poorly talented, but the special characteristic of a great person is to triumph over the disasters and panics of human life.”
—SENECA, ON PROVIDENCE, 4.1
Today’s stoic meditation discusses the famous topic of how it’s natural to be jealous of lucky people, but the ones who have had a hard life are those who are admirable. You know the deal: if you’ve been born in a rich family, or genetically gifted, blablablah, that’s ok, but only the folks who were born from a poor family, needed to fight hard to be able to go to college and endured all kind of calamities during their life… Those are the folks we need to worship and admire.
I always found this philosophy kind of simple and lame, to be honest.
Anyone Can Get Lucky, Not Everyone Can Persevere
I consider myself a privileged person. I was born in Europe (Spain), in the first world. I’ve been able to get a great education and go to college. As a result, I now live as a digital nomad and travel the world with my partner. Living in a civilized, first world country has also given me the freedom to marry the person I love in an environment of freedom and safety.
However, my family was never rich or well-off. Actually, we lived in a social house granted to teachers -my mom’s a teacher- until I left my parents’ house. Only recently they were able to afford to buy a house. Both my father and my mother worked their whole life, but their salaries were quite low.
Obviously, that meant that as a child and later a teenager, the other kids had always more money than me. I went to college by bus, 50km back and forth every day, while other students lived at the university campus. I didn’t get a car when I graduated. That’s ok, no big drama.
Perhaps that taught me to live within my possibilities, or the value of hard work, or how to work hard to earn a salary… But I don’t think that made me a more admirable person. Being born into a rich family does not make you better or worse, neither having endured more difficulties in life. It just makes your life easier or harder. That’s all.
In my view, the other way of thinking is very Disneylandish… The Beast is not a better person just because he’s uglier than the beauty.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Anyone Can Get Lucky, Not Everyone Can Persevere”, discusses the overused argument that affirms that people who have had a hard life are more admirable or better than those who were lucky. I never bought that.