Today I’m thinking about Marcus Aurelius.
Why am I thinking about a long-dead white guy? Because this was one of the bad-ass-est dead white guys ever. During a goddamn military campaign, this guy — did I mention he was the emperor of Rome at the time? — this guy penned one of the great works of moral philosophy for himself. He wasn’t preaching to the people; he was just making notes to himself, reminding himself who he wanted to be.
Merely a good man, winning general, and political master? He also sired 14 children with his wife, was an acclaimed orator, and sent an ambassador to China — CHINA.
Aw, fuck it. Today I might be too misanthropic to write this in that tone. Today I stumbled around looking for motivation (as if that could come from stumbling around), and watched people seem happy to hate on one another, to glory in each others’ failures, to ascribe the darkest possible motives for every action, to be generally vile — and I must include myself in their number. I looked at the world with the eyes that drive men to drink. Oops.
I’m not thinking about Marcus because he maybe sent an ambassador to China. I’m thinking about him because by all the evidence I have, he worked hard to be good, without divine grace, without mandate or magic, unchanged in the face of both success and tragedy. I’m thinking about Marcus like Theseus thinks about thread. I’m thinking about Marcus because we all spring from the same source as the great ones, and we all drain to the same sea.
"Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one." -- Marcus Aurelius.