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 humanity. Writing during the 1st Century AD, Seneca witnessed cruelty, slavery, and excess. He was appalled by the extensive barbarity and savage treatment of his fellow man, and highlighted the need for compassion & empathy.
Seneca believed humans were better than the debased behavior he had been observing. Indeed, he often advocated for a higher moral standing. Although arguably 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, Seneca left behind a legacy of literature. That’s how we still know about him. Seneca shared his views of our common humanity through his many letters, essays, and tragic plays.
Seneca wrote of our ability to create our own good and discover our own happiness. He explained that this could be achieved through living a virtuous life. As written in the title quote, “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.
Seneca… Still Going Strong
Other notable (and more contemporary) followers of Seneca and stoicism, include former California Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Roman philosopher also provided solace for the esteemed Nelson Mandela, (who apparently read him for support during his many years in prison).
In fact, Seneca’s advice for managing difficultly and emotion can be applicable to anyone going through a difficult time. Clearly his teachings still bear relevancy.
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 due to environmental disasters, it really comes down to strong local communities. It is ultimately people helping one another out that will help us to 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. Not only is it in our interest of self-preservation, but it’ll actually make you feel good along the way.