The Daily Stoic for February the 6th: “Don’t Seek Out Strife”.

“I don’t agree with those who plunge headlong into the middle of the flood and who, accepting a turbulent life, struggle daily in great spirit with difficult circumstances. The wise person will endure that, but won’t choose it—choosing to be at peace, rather than at war.”
—SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 28.7”

Today’s passage seems to reflect on how well-known figures like Theodore Roosevelt are admired when their lives were filled with reckless, unwise or baffling acts.

Our society tends to lionize the irreflexive, blatant or violent behaviors instead of the rational or thoughtful ones. That’s a fact.

The Cultural Class Division

Some years ago, I noticed a new trend in film ads that was pretty disgusting for me at the time. Instead of claiming “The new film by XXX”, they would say something like: “from the director(s) of YYY” or even worse: “from the producers of ZZZ”. As if investing money on a project had something to do with its artistic qualities.

Apparently, remembering who’s the director of a movie you love is just too much for our brains now.

In Spain, randomly approach one man on the streets and ask him to name ten football players. He’ll probably be able to enumerate several dozens. Ask him who directed “2001: A Space Odyssey”, the name of just one book written by Julio Cortazar or who was Claude Debussy. I’m not stating we need to be living wikipedias, but in my opinion, there’s a cultural class breach there that’s growing every day.

You cannot blame people for this. We are being served this numbing content 24/7. Just watch the TV for ten minutes and you’ll know what I mean.

Obviously, this cultural class division is closely tied to a social class division. The less educated you are, the easier it is to turn you into a dispensable working pawn.

That perfectly shows in every aspect of our society, especially in how we choose and idolize our celebrities.

In that bleak scenario, people don’t want to learn how things work, we want fast solutions. Big acts. We want to be entertained, not to think.

We want the bangs, flashes and special effects. At least that’s what we’ve been told.

I think one of the first daily stoics discussed how education is freedom. Expanding on the previous example, education frees you from having to use special effects. Luckily, you know how to write a good indie story.

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Why I Don’t Seek Out Strife

The equivalent to Theodore Roosevelt today are the rap stars covered in golden chains and rings, surrounded by twerking girls…

… or the internet gurus, repeating those lame, overused quotes, or screaming the word “fuck” like they were trying to invoke Tarantino.

They are also the celebrities of our society, our sportsmen, our actors.

We worship them.

On the Daily Stoic for January the 28th, Watching The Wise, I mentioned that I’ve never had heroes or models to imitate. While that’s true, I have met a lot of people that has inspired me, or who deserve praise. None of them will appear at the Super Bowl show.

Those doing great things don’t usually make great headlines

When I worked on computer security, I met quite a bunch of real hackers and quite a bunch of charlatans too.

The most amazing hacker I’ve ever met has never spoken at a conference. I doubt he ever will. If you cross paths with him on the street, you won’t even notice he’s there.

However, behind that bland appearance hides one of the brightest minds I’ve ever seen. He is a genius, and spending 10 minutes with him in front of a computer can teach you things that would take you years to learn on your own.

When I met him, I got to a conclusion: “Those doing great things don’t usually make great headlines”.

Yes, there’s Zuckerberg, but he didn’t build Facebook alone. Behind every Steve Jobs, there is a Steve Wozniak, and we don’t even know who Satoshi Nakamoto was.

Maybe I read too much in today’s Daily Stoic, but that’s the reason why I don’t seek out strife. I don’t want to make headlines, I want to do great things.

Conclusion

Today’s Daily Stoic, “Don’t seek out strife”, discussed on the figure of Theodore Roosevelt, concretely on how he is generally praised, in spite of doing lots of baffling and impulsive acts.

That made me think about why our society tends to idolize impulsive or violent actions or individuals over the reflexive or thoughtful. That reflects in a cultural class division, where these behaviors are served for mass consumption to an average audience in a feedback loop.

What do you think?

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