Who Goes First?

Rome was filled with a number of rituals and practices that seem baffling today. They had distinct hereditary classes. Only certain classes and ages and positions could wear certain color togas or capes. These distinctions of importance and blood trickled down as far as dinner parties, in which certain guests were given better positions on the banquet couches.

You can pretend like you’re above such things but chances are you’re not: Watch what happens the next time there is some sort of selective process. Don’t you want to be first? Don’t you want the good position? Don’t you want to sit shotgun for the long car ride? Nobody wants to be the bitch in the bitch seat, right?

Today, as in Rome, we still feel the superficial pull to measure ourselves by who gets the better office, who gets to wear this pin or that one, who gets to give the closing remarks, who has the best seat of the group. And it’s stupid now as it was stupid then. Two thousand years ago, Seneca said to himself and to all of us, “Silly man! What difference does it make what part of the couch you lie on?”

It doesn’t. It makes no difference. None of this matters. Not compared to the content of your character. Or the quality of your deeds.

So the next time there is jockeying for who goes first or who gets the best perk, opt out. Because it makes no difference. You’ve got more important things to worry about.

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