He was sent to prison. But the observation ‘he has suffered evil,’ is an addition coming from you.”
Epictetus, Discourses, 3.8.5b-6a
How we attach to it, or personalize it, or dramatize it - how it was unjust, or an utter tragedy, or that it was done maliciously - is all on us.
Ryan Holiday, in The Daily Stoic, highlights the lesson of how beginning with acceptance can lead to potential personal transformation by citing the life-experiences of one of my own personal heroes: Malcolm X.
Back when he was known by the surname given to him by the oppressors of his ancestors, Little, Malcolm was tried, found guilty of crimes, and sentenced to prison. Like Epictetus says in the above quote, “He was sent to prison.”
When he was released, he came out educated, pious, and driven to help first his community, and later in life, the civil rights movement and American culture as a whole. To me, that doesn’t sound like someone who, like Epictetus said, “has suffered evil.” That sounds like someone took the resources they had, and chose to make his experience as a man incarcerated as positive as possible.
Regarding acceptance: Holiday notes that it, “... isn’t passive. It’s the first step in an active process toward self-improvement.” (The Daily Stoic, 339)
A wise observation.
May we all have the fortitude to choose to see it that way.
(See y’all tomorrow)