It’s easy to forget. It’s easy to think small.
But this life is not just about us. Our loyalty and duty is not just to ourselves, to our family or to our immediate neighbors.
The Stoics believed that we were all one. Marcus Aurelius referred repeatedly to the hive. He spoke of being part of one large community. Dozens of times he talks of the common good, and how to wrong one is to wrong all, and to do good for one is to do good for all—that to do good for others is to do good for yourself. Seneca spoke of sympatheia, the interconnectedness of all people. He spoke of the need for kindness, for compassion, for understanding.
You might not think that a death in the streets of Georgia or a police killing in Minnesota or immigrant children in cages along America’s southern border has much impact on your safety. You might think that these situations are complicated. You might even question the other side’s political motivations and point to the media’s tendency to inflame things. And that all may be true, but it doesn’t change the facts: This is your problem. It’s everyone’s problem.
Martin Luther King, Jr. perfectly expressed those Stoic concepts of interconnectivity and interdependence when he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
You cannot turn away from that. You cannot let this be partisan. You cannot close your heart to this. When people are being wronged, you are being wronged. We all are. We can disagree about who’s to blame for the problem and we can disagree about the solution, but we have to admit that the problem exists and we have to insist that a solution should. We have to fight for it. Now. Like true Stoics.