Opportunity for Compassion
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Enlightenment from Ancient Rome
The Roman playwright and philosopher, Lucius Annaeus Seneca (aka Seneca the Younger), wrote of the need to embrace and understand our shared common humanity. Writing during the 1st Century AD, he witnessed the surrounding cruelty, slavery and excess. He was appalled by this inhuman treatment, and highlighted the need for compassion & empathy.
According to Seneca, humans were better than this. Indeed, he often advocated for a higher moral standing. Although he is perhaps most famous for his contributions to Stoic philosophy (aka Stoicism), Seneca was also an avid proponent of the power of virtue. As a prolific writer, we have learnt of these view through his many letters, essays, and tragic plays.
Seneca wrote of our ability to create our own good, our own happiness. This could be achieved by living a virtuous life. As Seneca explains, “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.”
His words went on to inspire another famed stoic, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelias. Aurelias went on to leave his own memorable guidance for the future (BrainPickings) through a collection of insightful writing.
Still Going Strong
Other notable (and more contemporary) followers of Seneca and stoicism, include former California Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as the esteemed Nelson Mandela, (who apparently read him for support during his many years in prison).
A Wilder Climate
As people face the increasingly devastating effects of climate change, human compassion will be ever more critical. When supply chains are cut off, it really comes down to strong local communities who can help one another withstand and overcome disasters.
Whether floods, fires, snow storms or earthquakes, the elements can essentially sever communities from any outside help or relief. Why this element of human empathy, and the opportunity for kindness, will continue to remain vital to our long-term survival.