'Choose someone whose way of life as well as words, and whose very face as mirroring the character that lies behind it, have won your approval. Be always pointing him out to yourself either as your guardian or as your model. There is a need, in my view, for someone as a standard against which our characters can measure themselves. Without a ruler to do it against you won’t make crooked straight.
We need to find ourselves a role model.
Someone who we can measure our behavior against.
Someone who inspires and motivates us to be the best that we can be.
You can discard most of the junk that clutters your mind…and clear out space for yourself… by comprehending the scale of the world… by contemplating infinite time… by thinking of the speed with which things change — each part of every thing; the narrow space between our birth and death; the infinite time before; the equally unbounded time that follows.
This is something that we need to do almost daily.
Clear out the junk that is cluttering our mind.
To consort with the crowd is harmful; there is no person who does not make some vice attractive to us, or stamp it upon us, or taint us unconsciously therewith. Certainly, the greater the mob with which we mingle, the greater the danger.
We really need to hold those we consort with to a higher standard.
Those we hang around with are supposed to help us improve, and become a better person.
If they aren't, they are dragging us down to their level
Every day as it comes should be welcomed and reduced forthwith into our own possession as if it were the finest day imaginable. What flies past has to be seized at. - Seneca, Letter CVIII
How often do we wake up in the morning with a bad case of the CBFs, and decide that binging on Netflix or wasting time on social media is more important?
Every day is the finest day imaginable.
Today’s quote comes from Epictetus
''If you want to make progress, put up with being perceived as ignorant or naive in worldly matters, don't aspire to a reputation for sagacity. If you do impress others as somebody, don't altogether believe it. You have to realize, it isn't easy to keep your will in agreement with nature, as well as externals. Caring about the one inevitably means you are going to shortchange the other.''
There comes a time where we will all need to decide whether we are going to live our lives in agreement with nature, or in agreement with social media likes and vanity metrics.
Today's quote comes from Marcus Aurelius.
Remember: Matter. How tiny your share of it. Time. How brief and fleeting your allotment of it. Fate. How small a role you play in it.
While this may sound pessimistic, we need to start putting things into perspective.
There is very little chance that what we are doing will change the world.
Instead, we should be more focused on becoming better ourselves.
Our own self improvement should be the first thing that we focus on.
The more that we improve ourselves, the more likely it is we will be setting a good example for others.
The more that happens, the more likely they are to be attracted to veganism, and what it entails.
Today's quote comes from Seneca’s Letters From A Stoic
Why be concerned about others, come to that, when you've outdone your own self? Set yourself a limit which you couldn't even exceed if you wanted to, and say good-bye at last to those deceptive prizes more precious to those who hope for them than to those who have won them. If there were anything substantial in them they would sooner or later bring a sense of fullness; as it is they simply aggravate the thirst of those who swallow them.
How many of us are searching for the viral post?
That perfect misery shot?
An ever increasing number of followers on social media?
An ever increasing number of supporters on Patreon, etc?
These are the deceptive “prizes” that we shouldn’t be aiming for.
Once you have them, you won’t be satisfied with what you have, and will always want more.
Instead we should be aiming to become better people.
The more we become better ourselves, the more that we are better able to present a good example for others to follow.
Today's quote comes from Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (Book II.8)
Failure to observe what is in the mind of another has seldom made a man unhappy; but those who do not observe the movements of their own minds must of necessity be unhappy.
This quote is relevant due to far too many of us focusing on what people are thinking about, and what we think their reasons are for not going vegan.
Instead of worry about what they are thinking, we should be focusing on our own thoughts, and why we are getting up set by things.
Remember, the better example we set for others, the more likely they are to follow this lifestyle.
Today's quote comes from Marcus Aurelius
Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.
I urge everyone to think more about this one.
Are we really living a good life if we are yelling at people, wasting our time and not helping to build a better community?
If we are judged at the end of this mortal life, will the Judge be more focused on how devout we were to “activism”?
Or will they be more concerned about how virtuous we were in our life?
Remember, the more we become a better person
Today's quote comes from Marcus Aurelius
When another blames you or hates you, or people voice similar criticisms, go to their souls, penetrate inside and see what sort of people they are. You will realize that there is no need to be racked with anxiety that they should hold any particular opinion about you.
To be clear, this relates to those who say something about you when you are doing what is right.
If you need to take time off from activism to give more time to yourself. Do it.
Don’t let anyone criticise you if you are doing things to make yourself a better person.
Remember, the more we improve ourselves, the better of an example we set for others.
The more that happens, the more we are likely to attract people into this movement.
Today's quote is from Epictetus' The Enchiridion.
Be not elated at any excellence not your own. If a horse should be elated, and say, "I am handsome," it might be endurable. But when you are elated and say, "I have a handsome horse," know that you are elated only on the merit of the horse. What then is your own? The use of the phenomena of existence. So that when you are in harmony with nature in this respect, you will be elated with some reason; for you will be elated at some good of your own.
How often do you hear people boasting about their social media followers, or how many times a particular video has been watched?
These are "vanity metrics" and the last thing anyone should be bragging about.
Instead, focus on yourself and becoming a better person.
The more of an example you set for others, the more likely they are to have a positive view of veganism.
Today's quote comes from Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (Book 2.4)
Remember how long you’ve been putting this off, how many extensions the gods gave you, and you didn’t use them. At some point you have to recognize what world it is that you belong to; what power rules it and from what source you spring; that there is a limit to the time assigned to you, and if you don’t use it to free yourself it will be gone and will never return.
How long have we been putting off looking after yourself, and becoming a better person?
If going to that protest, or attending that vigil means you will have to put of your own growth, then don't do it.
Becoming a better person should be the first thing that we focus on.
Without doing that, we can't set a good example for others to follow.
Injustice is impiety. For since the universal nature has made rational animals for the sake of one another to help one another according to their deserts, but in no way to injure one another, he who transgresses her will is clearly guilty of impiety toward the highest divinity.
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, IX.1
In becoming a better person and a better vegan activist, we shouldn’t be engaging in any activity that hurts another person, or veganism itself.
Though how often do you see someone doing a particular style of activism that does just that?
Our duty as vegans is to present the best possible image of veganism.
Something that isn’t able to be done when we are wearing a mask or jumping a fence with a horde of other people.
When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine.
- Marcus Aurelius
How often do we hear the “mm bacon” or similar comments, when we tell someone we are vegan?
Or, how about that friend who continually posts photos of their BBQ when talk about veganism?
When we realise that these people may be doing this because they do not know the difference between good and evil, it becomes easier to not be troubled by the comment.
Let our aim be a way of life not diametrically opposed to, but better than that of the mob. Otherwise, we shall repel and alienate the very people whose reform we desire; we shall make them, moreover, reluctant to imitate us in anything for fear they have to imitate us in everything
~ Seneca (Letters from a Stoic)
How many times do you see a particular style of activism that is totally different to how we live in the “real world”?
Are these actions presenting veganism as a way that is better than those of those who aren’t vegan?
Or is it presenting veganism in a way that is diametrically opposed to normal life?
Being the best person that you can be, presenting the best example as possible is how you promote veganism in a way that people will want to be.
Nothing important comes into being overnight; even grapes or figs need time to ripen. If you say that you want a fig now, I will tell you to be patient. First, you must allow the tree to flower, then put forth fruit; then you have to wait until the fruit is ripe. So if the fruit of a fig tree is not brought to maturity instantly or in an hour, how do you expect the human mind to come to fruition, so quickly and easily?
(Epictetus, Discourse 1.15.7-8)
Take your time to learn and understand things.
You can’t know what you need to know about animal rights and veganism if you have only been vegan for a few years.
Resilience is an unshakable virtue
Captain Christopher Pike (Star Trek Discover - S2: Ep 10 The Red Angel)
I made a huge boo boo here. Got Captain Pike confused with Captain Archer.
That being said, its a good test of our resilience to see whether we get upset by the mistake or say “ahh well”.
Which just goes to show that resilience really is an unshakeable virtue.
Why, then, do you wonder that good men are shaken in order that they may grow strong? No tree becomes rooted and sturdy unless many a wind assails it. For by its very tossing it tightens its grip and plants its roots more securely; the fragile trees are those that have grown in a sunny valley. It is, therefore, to the advantage even of good men, to the end that they may be unafraid, to live constantly amidst alarms and to bear with patience the happenings which are ills to him only who ill supports them.
We shouldn’t be seeking to avoid any challenges in our lives.
It doesn’t matter if it is someone who continually comments with “mm bacon”, or shares pictures of their BBQ.
Facing these challenges can make us stronger and better people.
And that is what we should be aiming for.
''If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.''
This is something we should all be doing with regards to our "activism".
If it hurts someone, we shouldn't be doing it.
Don't be emotionally attached to whatever it is that you do, and instead, search for the truth.
"I was imbued with this [vegetarian] teaching, and began to abstain from animal food; at the end of a year the habit was as pleasant as it was easy. I was beginning to feel that my mind was more active."
Seneca to Lucilius, CVIII. On the Approaches to Philosophy, 22
This is an interesting passage from Seneca, and while the Stoics don't necessarily advocate for veganism, we do have to wonder if they would be if they were alive in these modern times.
You can find out more about this podcast by heading to VeganStoic.Live
In episode 01, I talk about the following quote from Marcus Aurelius, and how it can help us with being vegan in a world that isn't.
Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill”.