So the other day I was at the movie theater, and I had an unpleasant social interaction with a misguided soul who thought she was entitled to keep her phone on, receiving text messages to which the entire theater was alerted by loud sounds. I asked her to turn off the thing, and she completely ignored me. A few minutes later I tried again and she responded extremely rudely. I was, honestly, left speechless. I did, I suppose, the Stoic thing to do (see Stoic advice on anger, for instance) and walked away. But this raised in my mind the possibility of reviving an old Stoic technique: coming up with a series of stock phrases meant both to deal with likely or even unexpected social situations, and more generally to remind ourselves (or communicate to others) of basic Stoic principles.
So here are some possibilities, both from the original Stoic stock, and a new one for modern living. Suggestions for additional entries are most welcome!
* “Fate permitting.” — to remind ourselves of the fact that the course of future events is not (entirely) up to us. Any textual reference for this, by the way?
* “Some things are in our control and others not.” — Same idea, from the beginning of Epictetus’ Enchiridion, 1. (A different translation has: “We are responsible for some things, while there are others for which we cannot be held responsible.”)
* “So it seemed to him.” — When someone says or does something that is wrong because, the Stoics would say, he didn’t know better. From Enchiridion, 42. (A different translation has: “He did what he believed was right.”)
* “Passions stem from frustrated desire.” — So says Epictetus in Discourses I, 27, 10. Applicable when someone does something irrational under the control of emotions rather than reason?
Categories: Modern Stoicism