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Prisoner AT War

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James Stockdale wasn’t a prisoner of war in that prison camp in North Vietnam. He was a prisoner at war. At war with his captors. At war with his own limitations. At war with anyone who wanted to give in or betray the cause of their fellow inmates. At war against fear, doubt, hopelessness and pain. So too was the future Senator John McCain. Considering his captors had offered him an early release—thinking that seeing the son of a high ranking officer accepting special treatment would demoralize fellow prisoners—he was essentially fighting to remain in the camp.

This is what Stoics do. “Life is warfare and a journey far from home,” is how Marcus put it. The Stoics are fighters. They aren’t victims. They might passively accept the things that are entirely outside their control, but the rest? They fight, fight, fight. A stoic, Nassim Taleb says, is someone who says fuck you to fate—who challenges what they can and makes the life they want and need.

That can be you too. If you follow their example. You’re not powerless of any situation—you are driving it, controlling it, changing it.