The Daily Stoic for December 11th, “Dignity And Bravery”.
“As Cicero says, we hate gladiators if they are quick to save their lives by any means; we favor them if they show contempt for their lives.”—SENECA, ON TRANQUILITY OF MIND, 11.4b
Today’s stoic meditation is a call to action for being brave and dignified. I’m not quite sure what to think about this. I don’t consider myself a coward, but I guess nobody does, or if we are, we all have some good excuses in place to silence our conscience.
Dignity And Bravery
Moments before the Tsunami that devastated Thailand in 2004 hit the coast, killing thousands of people, those near the sea could see the huge wave taking form on the horizon. Some of them, led by self-preservation instinct, ran away and described how others just stayed there… Looking at the giant wave approaching.
In my mind, that self-preservation instinct can, as in that extreme situation, save your life. Cowardly is disregarded in our society, but it’s just our self-preservation instinct speaking.
I honestly don’t think we choose to be brave, or dignified. Not until you find yourself face to face with a scary or painful situation. It’s in that situation when everything can happen. Nobody is a “hero” or a “coward” until you are on the brink of the chasm.
I always disliked this American concept -and obsession- of heroes: being a hero, he is a hero, the war hero, this soldier is a hero, he saved the children so he’s a hero… It’s so overused it’s almost a joke. There’s a whole generation inspired by heroes and wanted to act like one… But that’s not something you choose beforehand. So don’t be fast judging others.
So overall, I cannot agree with today’s Daily Stoic, “Dignity And Bravery”. I don’t think being a hero or a coward is something we choose until we are faced with adversity, and you’ll never know how you are going to react.