When having something that requires further ethical thought, some people think on the idea of “What would Jesus Do”. As an Atheist, a person looking to more secular assistance in looking on my life, and the best ways to go, I prefer to go more with the thoughts of philosopher, and in particular, the Stoics.
The man for me to consider is perhaps, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who was a learned man, over two thousand years ago. He was a Stoic, hence my interest in his thoughts. And another of the things he did every morning and evening was to write about his thoughts and decisions, creating a book that was to be widely known as “The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus”.
When Marcus wrote this book, he was writing only for himself, and to assist in working through the many decisions he had to make in his life. Being the Emperor of Rome is a big job, that’s for sure. I’m certainly not ever going to have to deal with the decisions he had to deal with, life and death issues, and the massive affairs of state.
So I am looking at Stoicism to assist me in my life, my life scaled down from what Marcus ever had to deal with, but still important to me, and to my community nonetheless. I have my dog to look after, Missy – here she is –
And of course our plants require my assistance at times. I’m not the main person in charge of watering, but it is definitely a sometimes task for me, especially in summer, when lack of water could be the end of our plants, which would be a wasteful thing, after all of the care we have given them. These are some of our plants:
So Missy gets fed, and let inside and outside, as needed, and the plants get watered as needed. I do my share of the chores in our household, and my husband does his share. We do this sensibly, as we should, with no accusations of shirking, because the things that need to get done are more important than our egos.
I doubt Marcus Aurelius ever had to look after a dog, or do housework, but I extrapolate, and consider issues from my own point of view, more than two thousand years later. I have my own responsibilities to my community, and I work hard at meeting my tasks with them, because it is important we all do what we can to help our own community to go well, no matter the size of that community.
So no matter the issue, I will do my best to do the best, the best for others, the best for my own wisdom, the best thing I can to become the best person I can become, as Marcus Aurelius was also thinking about, and doing way back when he lived, ruled, and then died – doing the best he could to become the best person he could be.