Let Others Line Up Their Own Ducks

When we interviewed Professor Nancy Sherman, she told us a wonderful story about a conversation she had with the Stoic war hero Admiral James Stockdale. The message of the story is twofold, one, a reminder that Stoicism is not some evangelical religion and two, a general reminder to live and let live.

Stockdale, you know, was not a converter. He told me repeatedly that while Stoicism was his salvation, he didn’t preach it to others. In solitary confinement, the POW’s would tap out in code to those on the older side of the wall: “Are you ok?” He did that once and began, somehow, getting a bit preachy and Stoic. The responses from the other side stopped. There was dead silence. His listener had stopped listening. He told me, he concluded from thereon, more or less: They had their ducks lined up one way. I had my ducks lined up another way. And that’s where we left it.

See the rest of our interview with Professor Sherman here.

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