It’s About What You Do (And Don’t Do)

“If it is not right, do not do it,” Marcus Aurelius wrote, “if it is not true, do not say it.” But it’s worth pointing out that as a philosophy, Stoicism demands more of us than just this negative. As Marcus would also point out, “Often injustice lies in what you aren’t doing, not only in what you are doing.” 

So, first, do not lie. But, second, sitting by and allowing a lie to stand? These can both be injustices. No Stoic would argue that fraud is permissible. But what if you witness fraud? What if you suspect a fraud is occurring at your work or in your industry or in government? Nassim Taleb bridges these two quotes from Marcus perfectly: “If you see fraud and do not say fraud, you are a fraud.”

Be the person that stands up. Be the person that lends a hand. Be the person that actively does good, that is courageous and generous. It’s not enough to simply not do wrong. We are called to do more than that, we are held to a higher standard. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” is the line. It’s true. Don’t turn a blind eye. Don’t make it someone else’s problem. 

Do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter.

P.S. This was originally sent on August 23, 2019. Sign up today for the Daily Stoic’s email and get our popular free 7-day course on Stoicism. 


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