Do Your Job
The Daily Stoic for July 1st. “Do Your Job”.
“Whatever anyone does or says, for my part I’m bound to the good. In the same way an emerald or gold or purple might always proclaim: ‘whatever anyone does or says, I must be what I am and show my true colors.’” —MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 7.15
We inaugurate a new section in the Daily Stoic journey for July: “Duty”. Its first stoic excerpt discusses how, according to the Stoics, every person has a “job” in life.
This job has nothing to do with your “daily job”, or how you earn money. On the contrary, it refers to our job as “Stoic students”. Namely: being good and seeking wisdom.
Do Your Job
And this is where I find some discordance between some of the Stoic teachings. One of them, some time ago, mentioned that nothing can be seen as good or evil. I remember because I strongly disagreed with it.
So if nothing can be seen as good or evil… the concept that “doing my job” implies “being good” is fundamentally flawed.
In fact, today’s stoic actually admits that people that do “bad things” are actually doing their job:
“Even people who did bad things—they were doing their job of being evil because evil is a part of life.”
Ok, so if evil is part of life, and the meaning of every act is subjective and cannot be tagged in terms of “good” or “evil”… It does not make much sense to ask me to do my job and be good right? Or is it stoicism inherently good? Maybe I am overthinking things here, but I tend to be very wary of this kind of bold statements, especially involving what’s good or not.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Do Your Job”, contains -in my view anyways- one of the apparent contradictions of stoicism. If nothing can be seen as good or evil, then how come I am asked to “do my job” by “being good” and seeking wisdom?