Stoicism came of age in a time of political turmoil much like today. Remember that Stoicism isn’t about judging other people. It’s not a moral philosophy handed down by a perfect god that you’re supposed to project and enforce onto the world. No, it’s a personal philosophy that’s designed to inform how to live a quality life. Remember, there is no “bible” of the Stoics which lays out the whole thing. Stoicism was largely taught in the oral tradition and what writings there we have are lecture notes, letters, and personal diaries. These teach us to philosophies, to be a Philo (lover) of Sophia ( wisdom). And to focus on what you can control while being indifferent to what you don’t. Living life in pursuit of wisdom is a quality life.
This is why Marcus Aurelius wrote (as a note to himself): “Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.”
Remember, he wrote this in his diary! He was not trying to start a cult, gather a following, or get Instagram likes. He was training his OWN mind. As I am in this post.
Be open to the idea that people are going to be fools or jerks or unreliable or anything else. Let them be. That’s their business. That’s not inside your control. A friend of mine who has a high public profile recently commented about “haters”, “I am indifferent to them. Why give them free rent in my brain?” The choice to engage in disagreeable thoughts about people and events is always mine.
Be disciplined with yourself, and your reactions. If someone acts ridiculous, let them. If you’re acting ridiculous, that’s on you. Notice the problem (which is your reaction, not the external event itself), stop it, and work on preventing it from happening in the future. What you do is in your control. That is your business. Be strict about it.
This is especially important to remember at a time when many people seem to be consumed with every tweet or quip from certain politicians, celebrities, or “influencers”. Leave other people to themselves. You have enough to worry about.
This does not mean “sit down and shut up” as some will infer. If other people are doing something that does intersect with something in your control then you can and must act. But don’t keep reposting “outrage”. Don’t let other people into your head. No free rent. Don’t let the monkey in your head run wild worrying about other people. Focus the monkey on what is in your own control.
Be strict with yourself and tolerant of others.