There is a wonderful interview with David Letterman from earlier this year, where he talks about some of the transgressive policies aimed at transgendered people in America. He said,
Look, you’re a human, I’m a human. We’re breathing the same air. We have the same problems. We’re trying to get through our day. Who the fuck are you to throw a log in the road of somebody who has a different set of difficulties in life?
Which is a very Stoic way to look at just about every contentious issue in today’s culture regardless of whatever political, religious or scientific mindset you adhere to. Far left or far right, creationist or scientist, it doesn’t matter what your opinion of transgendered people, or immigrants, an opioid-addicted kid in Ohio happens to be or why you think they got where they are. The Stoic approach would be to say: We’re all humans. We all struggle and those people are almost certainly struggling harder than me. Why would we spend our time legislating or pontificating about their issues when we have our own, right here, that we haven’t dealt with? Why would I actively try to make their lives harder?
The Stoics held strongly to the idea of sympatheia, the interconnection between all species, people and universes. They believe we were all the same, all struggling under different versions of the same logoswhich assigned unique roles and trials for us all. Who are we to make other people’s fates harder? Who are we to punish other people for things they don’t control—for things that have nothing to do with their behavior?
Don’t throw a log in front of someone else. Leave them alone. Or better, do the Stoic thing—offer a hand.
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