I decided to experiment with video. I wanted to talk about virtue and protest. If I started writing, I'd probably end up with a dissertation. Instead I've chosen to speak off the cuff in order to say something while the thoughts are fresh.
Last time I posted about Black Lives Matter (BLM) was in August of 2015 which is, in my view, too damn long ago. The last time I spoke out was due to a disruption during the Sanders campaign. By confronting Bernie, BLM drew heat from oh so many white liberals, who felt the sting of "why us, we're the good guys," instead of feeling the burning shame that should of accompanied being called out as part of the problem. In response I wrote a short piece in support of BLM, knowing that my role begins by speaking and acting loudly in all the spaces that I'm a part of, not the least of which is my own website.
I haven't even been able to do my simple 15 minute podcasts because I can't sort my Stoicism from my Stoicism. The podcast, Good Fortune, is important to me as both a personal practice and as a service to our Stoic community. I only say as a service because of the gracious words of encouragement and notes of thanks that I've received from many. I have intentionally framed Good Fortune in a neutral manner, laying out Stoic ideas and practices in a way that is accessible to as wide an audience as is possible without degrading the philosophy. I am happy to do this. I will continue to do so. At the same time, this world is burning. Stoicism demands I walk into the flames for others sake. For my own sake.
Stoicism is not a neutral philosophy. It certainly has practices that can apply to any person willing to invest thought and time. It has quotes that can probably strengthen the resolve of anyone that brings them to mind. Stoicism also makes demands. It is a virtue philosophy. It demands character. It demands action. It demands we become better. Stoicism doesn't care that you're free from anxiety, it cares that you use that freedom to boldly build a better world. And yes, I'm anthropomorphizing Stoicism. It's to save time. "Stoicism" is a hell of a lot better than the men who have taught it throughout the ages and I don't have time to lay out caveats to every statement I make right now.
So last night I was marching in solidarity with Black Lives Matter PDX. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are dead, like so many other black men and women. So I joined others in expressing solidarity by showing up. I have a lot I want to say and perhaps will concerning that march. Personally concerning how virtue is lived out. Politically concerning where my duty lies in society. Racially concerning the need for white people to both show up and shut up. That's for later. This minute I just need to say that I can't speak about "big tent" Stoicism unless I find an outlet for Stoicism as I live it. So, if nothing prevents it, that outlet will be here.
It's a great week for modern Stoicism because Stoicism Today: Selected Writings II is available in print or ebook. If you've never been over to Stoicism Today, you're missing out. The blog curates the writings of Stoics from all over the globe. Professional philosophers, therapists, bloggers, podcasters, parents, comedians: Stoicism Today provides a broad view of the Stoic community. In the Selected Writings series, editor Patrick Ussher has collected these viewpoints into an extremely useful format that could help any Stoic on their journey.
Volume II is in four parts: Stoic Theory, Living the Stoic Life, Stoicism and Society, and Debating Stoicism Today. Each section is replete with engaging and challenging viewpoints. The benefit to the reader is a wider view of Stoicism and potentially a deeper connection to the community at large. Volume 1 of Selected Writings comes off my shelves often for review and reflection, as I read through Volume 2 I am certain it will become a part of my practice as well.
A final benefit: purchasing Volumes 1 and 2 helps to fund the good work of Stoicism Today. Among other things, the team at Stoicism Today runs Stoic Week. Hosting conferences, soliciting writing, and running blogs all costs money. Your purchase directly benefits the Stoic community. So get the paperback to show the world that Stoicism is still publishing!
Disclosure: My article The Stoic Love of Community, is included in Selected Writings II. I also have a piece in Volume I. Writers are not compensated for Stoicism Today submissions, or for inclusion in the Selected Writing series. None of the proceeds come to me. I do, however, use Amazon Associates links for books linked to through this site. This means that a few pennies come my way if you purchase through my links.