The Daily Stoic for August 18th, “Only Fools Rush In”.
“A good person is invincible, for they don’t rush into contests in which they aren’t the strongest. If you want their property, take it—take also their staff, profession, and body. But you will never compel what they set out for, nor trap them in what they would avoid. For the only contest the good person enters is that of their own reasoned choice. How can such a person not be invincible?”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 3.6.5–7
“Nobody calls me chicken!”. Those were the lapidary words that signaled Marty Mcfly‘s biggest weakness in “Back to the future”. The character just could not cope with someone calling him “chicken”.
I remember thinking, as a kid -I was born in 1980, so imagine just how many times I’ve watched this film-, how easy it was to provoke this guy.
However, all of us have the exact same reactions. Only, the trigger is not as lame or obvious as being called “chicken”.
Only Fools Rush In
As a kid, I was physically weak. That, alongside being the son of the teacher in my class, meant I was bullied frequently at school.
I started practicing Tae-kwon-do in order to defend myself. I wanted to learn to fight back. And I imagined myself kicking the ass of that big fat ugly bully at the schoolyard.
So basically my main surprise was finding out that the goal of learning martial arts was not kicking asses, but actually avoiding fights. It took me some time to understand that I was in fact just as Marty Mcfly. I was rushing into battles, if only for revenge’s sake.
Luckily for me, my teacher, Mr. Khan, was a wise man, and he taught me not just Tae-Kwon-Do, but philosophy also. That was more than 20 years ago, but I guess he would still be able to teach me one thing or two if I was lucky to meet him again and invite him to a coffee.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Only Fools Rush In”, discusses how, instead of rushing into battles, stoics prefer to wisely choose the ones that truly need to be fought.