Seneca said something to the effect of, “Without a ruler to use, you cannot make the crooked straight.” (Letters to Lucilius, XI, On the Blush of Modesty, 10)
WWJD? Sure. Why not? :)
So, part of our own individual wisdom practice is looking to those who we understand to be good, wise, kind, or who emulate the actions and qualities we would like to display ourselves.
Role models. Check. Heroes. Hmmm… maybe. Are they wise?
One of the things I do when sitting with the topics of contemplation from The Daily Stoic is check out other folx who have gone through this work, too. A post I came across this morning was about how today’s practice of “Watching the Wise” was not appropriate, and instead, one should forge one’s own path, and don’t do anything how someone else has already done it… but, I believe the author missed the point.
It’s not about doing EXACTLY what someone else did. It’s about watching how they deal with their failures, and how they treat their successes. When they aspire, are they humble, and if so, how… if not, why?
The author approaches the “Watching the Wise” practice, at first, with Superheroes… again, missing the mark. It’s not about superpowers… it’s about the quotidian moments where we have felt like being less-than-virtuous, and we think of one of our role models and we have the strength to then act virtuously.
Not to mention, it’s VERY healthy in defeating one’s ego to put oneself in the position of student, and it’s that same ego that will avoid feedback (or learning at the hands of someone else) at all costs. After all…
“It is impossible to learn that which one thinks one already knows.” - Epictetus (Discourses, Book II, ch. 17)
If we think we don't need role models, then there's not much else we can be taught... for our hubris is in the way.
(See y’all tomorrow)