Cultivate ignorance

2 minutes reading time

One of the criticisms often levelled at Stoicism is the seeming lack of emotion. In society today, with the regular news and gossip that is circulated, you can be vilified for not feeling or emoting enough about the latest thing that’s happened.

”I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope

I’m pretty sure you’re not a Jedi, so you don’t feel a disturbance in the force when something terrible happens. The only way you find out is if someone tells you, or you read or watch something.

You were likely feeling fine until you knew, but now you feel worse. Next, what are you going to do about it? Can you do anything? If it’s the news of a death, sad as it is, you can’t do anything about that. Neither can you do anything about most of the news you hear. Or more accurately, you’re not going to do anything about it.

Does the news change your behaviour? Can you take meaningful action or are you only going through the motions of, ”gosh, that’s terrible”? Emoting is human, but in itself, it’s not a helpful thing. In the end, the only thing that you achieve is the disruption of your own peace of mind.

Cultivate ignorance; stop consuming and fueling the endless news and gossip. Be indifferent to that which is not in your circle of control. The most important information that is relevant to you will still percolate to you.
As much as it sounds selfish, you do not have the capacity to do anything meaningful for every event that you become aware of. If you’re not going to do anything more than express anger, anguish or outrage, then you should get back to doing your duty towards yourself, your family and your purpose.

Direct your energy and effort towards the few specific issues that you can control or have influence over. Then you’ll be making more of a difference. If everyone did the same, then there might be a lot less news worth reporting.


Got any questions or comments? Drop me a message on Twitter (@elaptics).