I was reading about the famous meeting Trump had with Silicon Valley executives in a fabulous article in the Financial Times
It was funny to read this paragraph:
“History will one day tell us more about the meeting this week between Donald Trump and the biggest names in Silicon Valley. We will find out why these usually swaggering characters came so meekly to Trump Tower. Why Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple and Larry Page of Alphabet, who never appear in suits and ties, wore suits and ties. And why not Peter Thiel, who showed up in an open collar? What brought them together besides curiosity?
Leading up to the presidential election last month, Silicon Valley was mostly at odds with Mr Trump, both culturally, on account of his illiberal attitudes to immigrants, women and minorities, and economically, because of his condemnation of outsourcing. But the leading technology companies and the men and women who lead them are nothing if not shrewd.
They have gulped hard and by showing up to meet a president-elect they might not care for, they are practising the resurgent philosophy of Stoicism — accepting what they cannot change and managing what they can.”
Beyond the joke and the humor, something else caught my attention. It was the mention of Stoicism and its reference to Marcus Aurelius.
Marcus Aurelius? That name rang a bell and a fired a search query in my mind… Yeah, I had heard that name in the movie Gladiator!
This is the reference from Wikipedia:
In AD 180, General Maximus Decimus Meridius leads the Roman army to a decisive victory against the Germanic tribes near the northern frontier. Now weary of battle, Maximus only desires to retire to his Spanish farm estate. But Emperor Marcus Aurelius tells him that his own son and heir, Commodus, is unfit to rule and that he will appoint Maximus as regent to help save Rome from corruption. When the emperor reveals his plan to his son, Commodus murders him in a fit of rage.
Commodus announces he is the new Emperor and asks Maximus for his loyalty. When the general refuses, he is arrested by his officers and is sentenced to death at dawn. He kills his captors and rides for his farm. However, he arrives too late, and finds it destroyed and his family murdered, on orders from Commodus. Maximus buries his wife and son, and then collapses from his wounds and grief. He is found by slavers who take him to Zucchabar, a colonia in the Roman North African province of Mauretania Caesariensis, where he is sold to a lanista (gladiator trainer) named Proximo.
Whoa! This got me thinking – what on earth could a Roman Emperor have said almost 2000 years back that would create a philosophy so profound that it would be quoted in the context of today’s trials & tribulations?
I learnt about the specific discourses called “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius and gleaned this 7 gems: Please read each one of them carefully!
- Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, at the seashore, and in the mountains; and you tend to desire such things very much. But this is a characteristic of the most common sort of men, for it is in your power whenever you will to choose to retreat into yourself. For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retreat than into his own soul, particularly when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is immediately perfectly tranquil; and I affirm that tranquility is nothing other than the proper ordering of the mind.”
- Do not act as if you were going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you. While you live, while it is in your power, be good.
- He who has a powerful desire for posthumous fame does not consider that every one of those who remember him will himself also die very soon;
- You are a little soul carrying about a corpse, as Epictetus used to say.
- This particularly in the wake of Trump’s election and the Demonetization – It is no evil for things to undergo change, and no good for things to come into being as a consequence of change.
- Be like the cliff against which the waves continually break, but which stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it.
- The best way of avenging yourself is not to become like the wrongdoer.
Thank you Trump for making me look up Marcus Aurelius who taught me more than you and the movie Gladiator ever did!
Did you like this post? Please comment and send me feedback?