Wednesday, July 2, 2008

#18 Illegitimi Non Carborundum and the EveryDay

Sometimes it's not easy to embrace the Ordinary. ("So how long is he gonna ride this pony," I hear you asking.) More often than not, intractable people and the unpredictable event get in the way. Can't control the latter, but the former you can get a handle on. Mary Richards was cheered on by Ted Baxter to accept gladly the quiescence of the quotidian (see earlier post), but she still had to deal with his darker side on most occasions, and with her irascible boss, Lou Grant, almost all the time. (I had a perfect ted-baxter-type as a colleague in my academic department, whom I had to endure for 25 years!) But to move from the ridiculous to the classical sublime--no, Marcus Aurelius DID NOT write the faux Latin in the title, trans ="Don't let the bastards wear you down" (he wrote in Greek, anyway), but he might as well have. His Roman Stoic version comes at the beginning of Book II while fighting yet another Germanic tribe, though that's not the enemy he's talking about in the following:

"Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable people. All of these things have come upon them through IGNORANCE of real Good and Ill. But I, because I have seen that the nature of the Good is the Right, and of the Ill, the Wrong, and that the nature of the person who does me wrong is akin to my own...I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in the Wrong, nor can I be angry with my kin, or hate them. For we have come into the world to work together, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of upper and lower teeth. To work against one another therefore is to oppose NATURE, and to be vexed with another or turn away from them is to tend to antagonism"--Meditations.

Please note his prescient use of evolutionary biology to make his point! We are all genomically "kin" (cognate words), after all--cooperation, altruism, love-thy-neighbor...hey, all in the DNA.

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