I have been struggling with how to respond to/handle/cope with the current batsh*t crazy political environment in Israel. Particularly the so-called “Judicial Reform” legislation that our current government is pushing forward at a rapid pace.
It is infuriating, worrying, and I can’t help but feel a sense of looming doom as the government gleefully advances its agenda with no regard for warnings from just about every expert from every sphere, both within Israel and internationally. I also feel powerless in the face of this onslaught on our democracy.
I started reading more about Stoicism in the interest of cultivating alternative perspectives on this crisis recently. I also decided to ask ChatGPT what sort of response it would suggest (because, why not?) using this prompt:
How would a Stoic respond to a political environment where the ruling government is advancing laws that harm the country’s democracy, ignoring growing popular protests, and disregarding experts’ warnings about the harm this legislation will do to the country’s economic outlook, social cohesion, and international regard?
It’s response is actually pretty encouraging. I don’t know how closely this corresponds with generally accepted Stoic philosophy, but it seems like sensible advice:
Stoicism is a philosophy that emphasizes the importance of focusing on what is within our control and accepting what is outside of our control. In this situation, a Stoic would likely focus on what they can control, such as their own thoughts and actions, and accept that they cannot directly control the actions of the ruling government.
Here are some possible ways a Stoic might respond to this political environment:
- Maintain personal integrity: A Stoic would strive to maintain personal integrity by upholding their own values and principles, even in the face of adversity. This might involve speaking out against the harmful legislation or participating in peaceful protests, but it would also involve avoiding actions that would compromise their own moral compass.
- Practice equanimity: A Stoic would try to cultivate equanimity, or a calm and even-tempered mindset, in the face of difficult circumstances. This might involve focusing on the things they are grateful for, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or finding ways to stay grounded and centered amidst the chaos.
- Cultivate a sense of community: A Stoic would recognize the importance of community and seek to connect with others who share their concerns about the harmful legislation. This might involve joining a group or organization that advocates for democratic principles or finding ways to support others who are impacted by the legislation.
- Accept what is outside of their control: A Stoic would recognize that they cannot control the actions of the ruling government, but they can control how they respond to these actions. They would strive to accept the situation as it is and focus on what they can do to make a positive difference within their sphere of influence.
Overall, a Stoic would likely respond to this political environment with a combination of action and acceptance, striving to maintain personal integrity, cultivate equanimity, connect with others in their community, and accept what is outside of their control.
Featured image by Amir Terkel (עמיר טרקל) on Wikipedia
Some additional notes
I thought I’d share this on reddit for some additional perspectives, too: