Ethics and Evil
26 November 2012
Eli Cushnir on the Political Spectrum–A Self Examination
Having grown up entirely in Santa Cruz, the “progressive mecca” of our very nation, and being raised in a secular, Grateful Dead loving, and adamantly liberal household, I’m certainly bound to hold some beliefs leaning strongly to the left. However, in the months leading up to the recent election, the first for which been I’ve truly conscientious, I’ve found the ability to step back from my previously held irrational infuriation with our country’s political system. The main reason why I could detach myself from this anger lay within the Stoic philosophy to which I had recently been exposed. After reading Epictetus’ and James Stockdale’s pieces on stoicism, I began rethinking my approach to the political scene in America. I realized my previous anger at our political system was pointless, as it had no means of changing the situation. Instead of letting my mind get worked up over hearing Paul Ryan claim there isn’t sufficient evidence for climate change, I controlled those emotions and sat down on my couch to watch the debates with an objective curiosity. I began to understand the hidden complexities within many sociopolitical issues in America that I had previously thought to be so black and white. The key to this newfound understanding was controlling my emotions, which has allowed me to learn and grow as a more informed American citizen. My education on stoicism has come both from Epictetus’ short piece detailing its ideological framework, and James Stockdale’s narrative about its application to his POW experiences. The most important knowledge I’ve gained from Stoicism emanates from Epictetus’ simple claim that “events don’t hurt us, but our views of them can” (370). Both of these readings effectively convinced me I must control my emotions more in all aspects of life. I don’t really agree with all the components of...