Marcus Aurelius could have done anything. He was a Roman emperor, after all. With such riches and power at hand, he could have relished in material pleasures.
But he didn’t.
Aurelius just so happens to be one of the greatest Stoic thinkers. His Meditations is one of the seminal texts on Ancient Stoicism.
Aurelius ruled during Pax Romana, the Roman Peace. During this time, though not strife-free, there was relative peace in Rome. In addition, there was an emphasis on education and economic stability. Marcus Aurelius is considered one of the Good Emperors who brought about a great period of Rome.
Fast forward to 2019.
Now we have, we hope, thriving democracy here in the United States. And soon it will be time to vote for the next president.
It’s too true that policies matter. But so, too, does character. In choosing a candidate from the current list, my vote goes to Andrew Yang.
Not only do I like his many, detailed policies, I like his character. It is, well, Stoic.
Marcus Aurelius tried every day to perfect the Stoic character, by which we shed the “passions” and reach Stoic Calm.
Recently, Politico, reporting on Andrew Yang’s surge among voters, described Yang as paradoxical. While he completely understands and discusses gloom and doom things, such as the loss of jobs due to automation, he remains upbeat. Even happy.
Contrary to Politico, I don’t think this is a paradox. I think it’s close to Stoic Calm.
The Ancient Stoics’ quest was to find happiness, peace and inner calm despite external things in the world. Christianity picked this up later on. And this inner peace and happiness, while rare, is incredibly valuable. I’d like a president who isn’t easily triggered or troubled by externals because only in the place of inner calm can we make the best decisions.
Could character be a part of a good president? I think so. And while I like many of the candidates, Andrew Yang presents as the most Stoic. Even, by extension, thus the most Christian in character.
Could Andrew Yang bring us to an American Pax Romana?
My vote is betting on it.