The Daily Stoic for April 8th. “The cost of accepting counterfeits”.
“When it comes to money, where we feel our clear interest, we have an entire art where the tester uses many means to discover the worth . . . just as we give great attention to judging things that might steer us badly. But when it comes to our own ruling principle, we yawn and doze off, accepting any appearance that flashes by without counting the cost.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 1.20.8; 11
The featured picture for today’s stoic meditation shows a red UK passport. Guess what’s wrong with it?
Before being a member of the European Union, the UK passport was blue. Believe it or not, the color of the passport was actually used actively in the Brexit campaign as a symbol of the “old England”. It was something simple that every old British farmer could understand.
Of course, that simple color change was tied to certain ideas: that immigrants were stealing the jobs from UK citizens, that crime had increased because of that, that the UK was paying for the rest of Europe while we were partying and living the good life with that money…
These kind of ideas are not new. They’ve been repeated over and over again for more than a century. Because they work.
The Cost Of Accepting Counterfeits
Everybody understands the value of money. If a stranger asks you to give him change for 100€, you would certainly check this 100€ bill to make sure it’s genuine.
However, we don’t apply the same strict scrutiny to ideas or prejudices from others, or assumptions from our society.
The cost of accepting counterfeits? For a young generation in the UK, being out of the European Union.
The world is changing, and not for the better: Trump and his wall, the Brexit, the Catalonian and other nationalist movements in Europe, Le Pen in France… If it’s true that history moves like a pendulum, we are in the descending swing.
.. but hey, they got their blue passports back.
We need to develop a healthy level of skepticism when others try to force these ideas on us. From the illusion that money means wealth, to racist, nationalist, religious or extremist ideas. Basically anything that affirms to be in possession of the absolute truth.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “The cost of accepting counterfeits”, contains a pretty interesting idea. While we show a great deal of attention if someone hands us a hundred-dollar bill, asking for change, we don’t apply that same scrutiny to ideas, prejudices or assumptions that prevail in our society, or around us.
We need to be more skeptic about them.