Some days – OK, MOST days – things seem to be “out-of-whack” … off balance … it’s hard to “get a grip”: Weeds keep growing, potholes appear, concrete cracks, storms come and go, leadership and agendas keep changing, bankruptcies happen, deals fall through, demands keep soaring, time keeps getting away from us, etc.
But, both fortunately, AND unfortunately, that’s just the way life is, the way the universe operates! The good news? Such “CHURNING” is the most practical way of expanding the playing field, diversifying the component parts, and getting rid of stuff that has outlived its usefulness or doesn’t work anymore. It’s also the basis for stuff to be rejuvenated. Thus, Spring follows Winter, Summer turns into Fall, etc., always “churning” to recycle and give us fresh starts.
There is, of course, huge “collateral damage”! Not everyone or everything is treated equally or “fairly”. And it’s not always an UPWARD MOBILITY enterprise. It’s a SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST paradigm, with the less “fit” and less “lucky” suffering the most. And sometimes even extinctions happen and Black Holes emerge.
But, perhaps worst of all, nefarious forces, hell-bent on “beating the system”, cause their own version of “collateral damage”. The Daily Stoic (June 30, 2023) shares the following:
Nearly every day was a terror. People died of easily curable diseases. People starved to death. People were clapped into slavery. Wars broke out–fought literally to the knife–where the losers were executed alongside civilian populations…their cities razed to the ground.
Seneca was exiled. Marcus Aurelius buried his own children. Epictetus was tortured, leaving him disabled for life. Yet somehow they wrote and spoke a philosophy that had within it, cheerfulness and love and lofty words about meaning and purpose. How did they even get out of bed in the morning, let alone smile?
There is a great lyric in the Florence and the Machines song, Free, that expresses this very bafflement:
“Is this how it is?
Is this how it’s always been?
To exist in the face of suffering and death?
And somehow still keep singing?”
The answer to that is basically, “Yeah.” That is how it is…always has been and always will be. People are awful. For some, cruelty is the point. Things are hard. Things go wrong. People get hurt. People die.
We don’t control that. We do control whether we keep going. We control whether we let those bastards get us down. We control whether we let them implicate us in ugliness, as Marcus Aurelius wrote. We control whether we keep singing, keep smiling.
Amor Fati. Live with virtue.
It’s just the way things are. If we understand that, accept it, and make the best use of everything we’ve got (i.e., “Live with Virtue”) we can keep the world “Churning” in the most positive direction possible. YES, WE can MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Quartermaster