WHAT IF WISDOM RULED A COUNTRY?
The book ‘Meditations’ by a Roman emperor called Marcus Aurelius is a philosophical diary on stoicism, leadership and the day-to-day challenges faced by him running an office. Although not meant to be published, the personal notes the philosopher king left behind offer a remarkable manual to understanding life. Each entry in ‘Meditations’ offers a concise and profound set of stoic principles that underpin the value of staying calm during times of chaos. When failure looms, the need to adapt is necessary. But how does one react? On the frontier Marcus wrote the literary legacy as notes to himself to compact such fears and doubts. It is thus, a remarkable work of self-examination and philosophical therapy. Contemporary analysis of Marcus's character show him as an emperor reeling with wisdom, rather than a man that worshiped power. Hence, the Meditations are sincere notes to himself and not an attempt of self-gratification. As emperor Marcus faced an unusual set of temptations and opportunities for anger, yet his fundamental advice to himself could be applied by anyone. "When a world provokes you into a reaction, think first whether the reaction is the right one." He said. And went on to ask: "Are you wrapped in the purple rope of unchallenged power? Remember they are only rags dyed in ink." Ultimately, one of his most profound passages is about misfortune. He says: "When hit by misfortune, do not let it trouble you. Instead, rejoice you are the kind of person that can undergo a misfortune without letting it upset you." In Meditations, Marcus describes the process of self-refinement as an art of living. The body is the instrument of the soul, which is the true man. And our rational capacity is equatable to the captain of a ship. Here, Marcus is tuning himself to the fact that ethical believes alone do not represent who we truly are. Rather, careful judgment of the challenges presented to us and how we respond to it, is the thread that weaves our personalities.