Daily Touch of Inspirations

June 24th: The truly educated aren't quarrelsome

Ryan Holiday, The 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living

The beautiful and good person neither fights with anyone nor, as much as they are able, permits others to fight... this is the meaning of getting an education— learning what is your own affair and what is not. If a person carries themselves so, where is there any room for fighting? —Epictetus, Discourses, 4.5.1;7b-8a


Socrates famously traveled around Athens, approaching the people he disagreed with most, and engaging them in long discussions. In these discussions —or what record we have of them— there are many examples of his conversation mates getting exasperated, upset, or aggravated by his many questions. Indeed, the people of Athens eventually got so upset, they sentenced Socrates to death.

But Socrates never seemed to get upset himself. Even when talking about matters of life and death, he always kept his cool. He was much more interested in hearing what the other person had to say than making sure he was heard or — as most of us insist upon — winning the argument.

The next time you face a political dispute or a personal disagreement, ask yourself: Is there any reason to fight about this? Is arguing going to help solve anything? Would an educated or wise person really be as quarrelsome as you might initially be inclined to be? Or would they take a breath, relax, and resist the temptation for conflict? Just think of what you could accomplish — and how much better you would feel — if you could conquer the need to fight and win every tiny little thing.

 

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom Perseverance and Art of Living

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