I would say that Stoicism allowed me to take a step back and REALLY look at things even if it has not been anything close to my solution. Sometimes anger is better than acceptance when it comes to things like social change but I would argue that our ancestors may have sometimes been more “Stoic” than we sometimes believe. It is also useful for seeing a “brotherhood of man” and moving beyond pure tribalism.
There’s a lovely story told by St. Therese of Lisieux in her autobiography that touches on this. She recounts that as a small child, she asked her sister if God loved saints more than regular people. The sister — in a moment of inspired brilliance–got a wine glass and a thimble and filled them each to capacity and asked the little Therese, ‘which is more full?’. The child got the point that we each experience the sacred to our capacity and “more” is a very subjective matter.
I love this analogy, even if mysticism will always be controversial and debated by science. I am willing to accept that it may be more in our heads (if not all) than some of us think but I don’t believe that makes it less valuable.
I still debate where I fall on such a continuum, although I am likely as much mystic as philosopher these days.
A good poem on warfare.
Technically trench warfare began in the American Civil War – at least for Americans. Stephen Crane – better known for his book “Red Badge of Courage” than for his poetry (though I think his poetry is a thousand times more searing) wrote the following about that war. I suspect the sentiments and experiences described cross the centuries, certainly this poem has the same wrenching sarcasm about the war that one finds in the greatest of the WWI soldier-poets.
War is Kind
Stephen Crane (1899)
Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind,
Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky
And the affrighted steed ran on alone,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,
Little souls who thirst for fight,
These men were born to drill and die.
The unexplained glory flies above them.
Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom–
A field where…
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