This week it’s all about power, corruption, jealousy and pride! Do the things you own end up owning you, or, despite everything Seneca tells us, are there some things which should always be saved if your house burns down?
But before all that, Lucilius has been hanging out with another philosopher and Seneca isn’t pleased about it. This new dude seems to be claiming he’s reached the dizzying heights of being a truly Good Man, trumpeting his achievements for all the world to hear. Lucilius is impressed; Seneca is pissed off.
Because there’s an important difference between being comfortably secure in your achievements and (the mark of the insecure) feeling the need to shout your accolades from the rooftops. Who needs to tell you they’re a good man, or a born leader? These are things which must be shown.
Still, unless people like Lucilius’s new BFF aren’t corrected in their path, how are they ever going to grow? If you don’t call out other people’s bullshit, you’re arguably being selfish. You’re depriving those people of the valuable feedback they need from the world to – hopefully – correct their behaviour.
Once someone reaches a position of power, though, is there any way back after they’ve started straying from the path? The old adage that power corrupts has a lot of weight to it, but it’s not quite that simple. It’s not that power simply corrupts, but once you’re in a position of power, you’re also gradually deprived of negative feedback loops which can keep your worst impulses in check.
Leadership is ultimately about service to those you lead; individuals become leaders because other people want to follow them. Anything else is tyranny.
So how could we select politicians who aren’t either attracted to or corrupted by the allure of power? We’ve got a few ideas, and only one of them is Andrea becoming God-Emperor of the world.
Seneca goes on to challenge us to think more carefully about ‘wealth’. What is wealth? What makes someone truly wealthy? Winning the lottery often isn’t the answer; unless you use money to buy yourself freedoms rather than responsibilities, it can all go horribly wrong.
Then Seneca grabs us by the shirt and reminds us how blind we can be to the very real costs we inflict on ourselves that don’t involve money at all. We so often give ourselves and our time away at the price of anxiety and sleepless nights.
Taking on new commitments, objects and even relationships all come at a cost – but have we done the mental and emotional maths to decide whether these shiny new things really are worth the cost?
Wealth, in the end, depends on what you want. So have you taken the time to identify what that is?
Plus there’s time to mention that one time Andrea almost killed the Queen … and why ultimately we’d all live happier lives if we were cats.
- Does power corrupt or reveal a person?
- Leadership: it’s about people wanting to follow you
- More money, more problems?
- If you only save one object from your burning house – what would it be?
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