Friday, April 15, 2011
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - Unpublished Selections Explained, Med. VII.27
Meditation VII.27 - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - Translated by George Long and rewritten by Russell McNeil
Think not so much of what you do not have as of what you do have: but of the things which you have select the best, and then reflect how eagerly they would have been sought, if you did not have them. At the same time however take care that you do not - by being so pleased with them - accustom yourself to overvalue them, so as to be disturbed if ever you should not have them.(1)
(1) Marcus exhorts us not to overvalue our possessions by learning to be content with what we "have." At the same time as a Stoic you must be prepared to let go of what you have. While the meditation is directed toward human materialisms, the advice applies equally to power and fame (or reputation). These are also "things" that prevent human beings from being truly happy - not because these things are bad for us, but because they are not - in and of themselves - good for us either. The only good in life comes from acting rightly toward others, and toward nature generally. In contemporary terms this statement of Stoic materialistic indifference provides an underpinning ethic for the contemporary environmental ethic: to reduce, reuse, and recycle. A thorough examination of the relationships between Stoic philosophy and environmentalism is reviewed in Chapter 7 - "Stoic Philosophy and the Environment".
Russell McNeil, PhD, is the author of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Selections Annotated and Explained by Skylight Paths Publishing. The unpublished selections presented in this Blog are provided as supplemental material to the published selections which are annotated and explained in the book. The published selections are referenced in this Blog by page number and section.