The Story of the Stoic Father (Fiction)

Hello, I’m Jeff Whitman. I’m a university professor, who teaches Global Studies in Denver, Colorado.  My wife Victoria is professor who teaches Gender Studies for an online university.  We both have been lifelong liberal progressives and have been involved in several social movements together in our early college days.  We actually met at Occupy Wall Street in Zuccoti Park.  When Victoria and I decided to have kids we promised each other we’d raise them with a liberal attitude towards life and would give them plenty of resources to learn and remain open minded to new ideas.

Years after Victoria and I had kids, I became interested in Stoicism and became a Stoic.  I decided to apply Stoicism to my life and try to live as hard as I could to put virtue first in all of my goals.  My wife thinks I’m funny for being so dogmatic.  She’s one of those people who like to have a smorgasbord of ethics.  She likes utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics but won’t settle for any particular ethical system and just uses what she likes given the situation.  That kind of attitude can drive me crazy sometimes but it is what it is and I accept it.

Our youngest child is Vicky.  She is in 8th grade and is doing well in school.  She is really bright and is actually quite familiar with the works of Friedrich Nietzsche.  She’s decided she’s a nihilist.  In her mind, there are no real values and no morality.  She still acts on her moral sentimental instincts and is definitely a good kid but she thinks there’s no way to rationally justify her views.  She laughs at anyone who believes in principles and values.

Frank is just starting high school and he’s doing all right.  He’s a B student, kind of like me in high school.  He spends a lot of time at the library alone and considers himself an Epicurean.  I often discuss a lot of different issues with him because he’s always wondering what a Stoic would do and it gives him some ideas on how he can approach the problem from an Epicurean point of view.

Our eldest child is Britney and she’s a senior in high school and she’s already scored high enough in ACTs and SATs to go free-ride to any major American university of her choosing.  She’s thinking about Princeton, which is pretty damn cool.  She’s into computer programming and tells me all the time about programming languages.  I’m often zoning out because programming is so dreadfully boring to me.  She considers herself a Skeptic.  No, not a scientific skeptic, although she is one of those.  But she considers herself an ancient Greek Skeptic.  She often laughs at me and considers my ethical viewpoints to be no more real than optical illusions.

With the different viewpoints my children express and even my wife, it makes for interesting discussion around the dinner table.  We don’t always have to agree on every single thing but we do agree on the important issues like when it’s time to go to bed and turn off the TV.  I’m pretty happy with our family because we are good people despite our different outlooks on life.  I never would’ve thought I’d have a nihilist daughter and I would’ve never thought about a nihilist being such a good person.

I think the main reason why we do so well as a family is because my wife is sort of a control freak.  Sometimes when she’s laying down the law of the house, I can’t help but to jokingly think of her as a fascist.  But I never say it out-loud because she’s only doing what she thinks is good for the well-being of everyone.  She’s pretty much the glue that holds the family together.  If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know if anything would get done.

Why don’t I assert myself as the family man and drill Stoicism into everyone’s heads?  For one, it’s never that easy.  Tyrants always create opposition.  For two, I can only do what’s in my own control, I can’t do what’s not in my control, like attempting to control my family’s belief systems and values.  The Stoics taught us long ago that we should try to use reason and Socratic dialogue to persuade others to our beliefs.

I’ve learned a lot from this experience and I hope you can too.  I’m just one person among many trying to do what I think is best for everyone.  I hope my experiences can teach you how to be a truly good person even if your philosophies are disagreeable to mine.

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5 Reasons Why Stoicism Is Better Than Atheism

  1. Atheism is a lack of a belief in a divine power, usually monontheistic.  While atheists have made the important step of showing some intellectual courage to rise above superstitious beliefs, they have a huge price to pay more than they’re aware:  no philosophy.  Atheists usually become atheists at college age when they’re finally free from their religious parents and get curious and show up to a few atheist conferences.  Unfortunately, they underestimate how young and impressionable they are.  They don’t realize how easy it is for them to be radicalized by new ideas that don’t depend on religion.  Some atheists fall for the likes of Sam Harris.  Some fall for the likes of Ayn Rand.  Some go into Satanism, which is just Ayn Rand + Trolling.  Some go MGTOW and blame all their problems on women.  Some go radical SJW.  Young and impressionable atheists unfortunately fall for secular idols and cults of personality.

    Fortunately Stoicism is a good antidote to young and impressionable minds who keep falling for secular heroes who might save them from their nihilism.  It gives you one simple purpose in life:  to live excellently.  All of the old Stoics are dead, so it’s hard to worship them as much as current fallible human beings.  But the bonus is that Stoicism is critical of even the greats.  And even the greats like Marcus Aurelius are critical of themselves.  Seneca is a great Stoic to learn from but no one would actually worship the guy because he was a hypocrite and many of the Stoics didn’t want to be associated with him.

  2. Stoicism allows for atheism.  It allows for theism, pantheism, monotheism, panentheism, pandeism,  and deism.  Atheism just allows for atheism.  Sure, atheists aren’t typically motivated by atheistic reasons to kill theists.  But they’re certainly more intolerant of people who disagree with them than they might think.  They think by giving up religion they became pure from the sin of sanctimony.  Unfortunately they underestimate how vulnerable they are to “better than thou” mentality.
  3. Atheists are young and giving up religion makes them very vulnerable.  There’s no more pie in the sky rewards and death seems a lot more scary.  So what do they do to make up for this God vacuum?  They usually go around mocking religion and mocking religious people.  They have some reason to do this, for one thing religion has oppressed their ability to think for years.  Usually a religious parent was too strict.  So atheists are just acting out.  They are somewhat mad at religion.  Not because they’re mad at God (who knows if one exists?) but because they’re mad at the mental abuse they felt at the hands of religious orthodoxy.

    Seasoned Stoics don’t have all of these insecurities.  They no longer fear death.  They have a purpose in life, to live virtuously and eudaimonically.  The God vacuum is filled by reason, the Socratic method, and a positive philosophy of life.  Atheism is not a philosophy.  It just a lack of a belief in God.  Stoics don’t go around mocking religious people because they learned to deal with their anger issues long ago.  They’re not mad at their parents, religion, or anything really.  They understand that they are ignorant and so is everyone else, the only thing to do is to try to be more wise.

  4. Atheists are tribalistic.  Giving up Christianity, Islam, or Judaism means you give up universal ideas that bind tribes together.  Monotheistic religions have been very successful at unifying disparate tribes by making them give up their petty differences for some greater ethereal purpose.  And it worked.  Christianity really won over a lot of Jews and pagans in its early development.  As a result of giving up a universal philosophy of life, atheists have no universal truth to bind them together.  So they turn into SJW atheists, Sam Harris atheists, MGTOW atheists, whatever atheists.

    Stoicism isn’t tribalistic.  It’s a universal philosophy that believes ever tribe has something to offer.  That everyone has reason and is capable of living a virtuous and excellent life.  It believes that religious people, atheist people, leftists, rightists, etc etc. are all capable of using reason and are all capable of being virtuous despite some differences.  Stoicism doesn’t believe atheists are better than Christians or Christians better than atheists.  It doesn’t pick sides.  It says “we’re all in this together so let’s use our reason to work together better!”

  5.  Finally Stoicism is a coherent philosophy with a stated purpose.  This was kind of implied earlier but it needs to emphasized.  Atheism is not a philosophy, it is merely a lack of belief in a deity.  But implicitly atheism has rejected Christianity (or Islam) which is not a particularly coherent philosophy but it is a philosophy.  So when I see atheists brand themselves as atheists, I don’t see people with serious philosophies.  I see them saying they’re atheists because it makes them feel special to be a rebel.  But without a coherent philosophy like Stoicism, they’re scared and insecure just like all the people they think they’re better than.

    By the way, this isn’t to say atheists can’t try other philosophies than Stoicism.  They can.  But Stoicism is a lot better than being a mere atheist starting from ground zero.

    Famous Atheist Bertrand Russell who wrote “Why I Am Not A Christian”