Think of all the people throughout history who were wrongly condemned and criticized by the mob. From the Civil Rights Activists to Galileo to ordinary people whose lifestyles were hypocritically condemned as perverted or a violation of God’s law. Think of Jesus himself, condemned and nailed to a cross for no good reason.
In a sense, this is a rather dark reality to accept. But it is a fact. Society has always stupidly attacked what it doesn’t understand and what it fears. So what should we do about that as individuals? Live according to the crowd, even if we know that’s wrong?
Of course not, at least according to Marcus Aurelius. No, we must live as we were meant to live. We must live in truth. Let them kill us if they don’t understand it, he said. Imagine that.
Indeed, many Christians were persecuted by Marcus’s regime, and ultimately by his sign off. Just as Epictetus himself had been exiled from Rome for his philosophy. Just as how Stoicism would later be suppressed by the Christians. Just as great minds and regular people have been attacked and criticized by ignorant, obnoxious other people.
But we can’t let any of that stop us. We have to do what we have to do. We have to be who we are. We have to follow the truth as we see it. Because if we don’t, what good is this life we’ve been given anyway?
P.S. This was originally sent on December 14th, 2018. Sign up today for the Daily Stoic’s email and get our popular free 7-day course on Stoicism.