Weekly Stoic: How To Be An Informed Individual.

Whenever the ancient people hear Epictetus speak to explain why they should quit watching the news, they got very upset. “If you want to do better, be content to appear indiscriminate or stupid in other matters.”

This is understandable. Because for centuries, especially in America, people are conditioned to believe that every citizen has to consume journalism, whether in newspaper, TV, social media or the entire web.

Unfortunately, this statement is only correct from the second half. Indeed, it is every citizen’s duty to be informed, especially those who have voting rights. But no, it’s not by way of the news. 

The news could be the worst place to get informed in today’s clickbait and sensationalism generation. It would be best if you stopped watching so much press. 

There may be another way to reflect on this: To be an informed citizen, one of the best ways to follow, is the path of the Stoics. They didn’t have real-time media or anything of such. You’re expected to learn history. You’re supposed to study the law. You ought to study humanity. 

Machiavelli once wrote, “Those who research the present and old problems will quickly see how the same desires and prejudices remain and always exist in all cities and cultures.”  

Marcus Aurelius also said the same thing: “History is the same thing that always happens.”

Unless, you want to know about what is going on in the world, but if you genuinely want to become an educated and highly informed person, then gently pick up a biography. 

Pick up, Thucydides. Take on Plutarch. Take Robert Caro or Gibbon’s Edward. Read Goodwin’s, Doris Kearns. Read Machiavelli. Read Seneca. Interpret the complex relationships of Seneca and Nero. 

Read psychology. Go and read the nation in which you reside, the federalist articles on that nation. Go deep. Go backwards. Go to the real truths. 

That’s what informed people do. And they are okay being seen as ignorant about every other silly thing.

Source: Daily Stoic

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