The book for 2020: Lives of the Stoics by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

Many Queenslanders would have been terrified about the possibility of a re-imposition of border restrictions when they learned about the new NSW community-acquired COVID case, but, thankfully, Acting Premier Steven Miles has told us all is good for now, and he’s confident NSW has it under control, according to this report. But what if it doesn’t, and we see more cases? Will the Government lose its nerve and slam the border shut? Based on previous form, quite possibly.

Arguably, our current predicament is best approached with stoicism. The modern evangelist of stoicism Ryan Holiday has co-authored a new book Lives of the Stoics: The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius, which is the ideal book for 2020. I just wish it was released earlier in the year. The book surveys the lives of the 26 leading thinkers of the Stoic philosophy in the Classical world, philosophers such as Zeno and Seneca and men of action imbued with Stoicism such as Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Senator Cato the Younger. The authors show us how the Stoics generally (and not always) lived up to the values of the philosophy: Courage, Justice, Moderation, and Wisdom. Those are qualities that we’ve definitely needed in 2020.

Lives of the Stoics by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. If you’re in Brisbane, you can pick up a copy at Dymocks on the Mall.

While, in Australia at least, 2020 in no way compares to those awful years of Depression and War endured by my grandparents’ generation, it undoubtedly is the hardest year many of us have had to live through, and we’ll be glad to see the end of it. What really shocked me this year is how willing governments have been to impose severe restrictions on our way of life for so long and, in some cases, such as the second round of Queensland-NSW border restrictions, with so little justification. Sure, arguably many restrictions were for the greatest good of the greatest number, but we’ve placed a lot of trust in the wisdom and moderation of our public officials. Occasionally, I’ve worried that trust was misplaced (e.g. see my 11 September post).

Arguably, the restriction on allowing Australians to travel overseas is excessive and it’s good to see Andrew Cooper through his LibertyWorks think tank is challenging its legality, as reported by the Guardian Australia: Rightwing thinktank launches legal challenge to Australia’s travel ban. Yes, I know we’re in a pandemic and COVID is a serious disease, but I think it’s important someone stands up for civil liberties in a year when we’ve been very willing to sacrifice them for what our officials perceive is the greater good.

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