Marcus Aurelius

The Stoic Emperor

Role models can be found in the modern world or the ancient. Marcus Aurelius, for instance, ruled ancient Rome from 161 to 180 Common Era (C.E.), and has become known as the last of the five “good” emperors. He came closest to fulfilling Plato’s ideal of the Philosopher King. According to Plato, a philosopher king is a ruler who possesses both a love of knowledge, as well as intelligence, reliability, and a willingness to live a simple life.

Marcus Aurelius was both an emperor and a stoic. Stoicism is the philosophy that recommends taking life as it comes rather than contorting ourselves out of shape to attain some unreachable ideal.


Life is neither good or evil, but only a place for good and evil.

Confine yourself to the present

Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature’s delight.

Americans, stop squabbling over things that haven’t happened and are unlikely to ever happen. In other words, confine yourself to the present.

Case in point:

Recently National Public Radio has reported on dissension in Homer Alaska over illegal immigrants. Keep in mind that there aren’t any illegal immigrants in Homer Alaska, and probably never will be; but that simple fact has not kept the people of Homer from arguing about whether it would be a good thing or a bad thing if there ever were any. Some of the city council members proposed a resolution stating that Homer would welcome immigrants to Homer. Apparently, they wanted to distance themselves from newly elected President Trump’s stance on immigration. Opposition to the resolution from many of Homer’s citizens was immediate and vociferous. The town is deeply divided over an issue that for them does not exist.

People here in America have been arguing about immigration, particularly illegal immigration, for many decades now. President Trump wants to characterize immigrants as mostly criminal. Other American citizens would prefer to stylize immigrants as hard working and industrious.

Neither blanket approach is going to work. Confine yourselves to the present. If you encounter an immigrant who has committed a crime, call the police. If you encounter an immigrant who is holding down a job and supporting a family, show some respect.