A horseback riding instructor who mentors young women training for elite performance. A mental health clinician with autism who helps disabled clients develop new skills. A prison official who inspires offenders to get their lives together. An economist who spends her free time assisting homeless migrants.
What do all these people have in common? They are all Stoics, inspired to do good by this ancient philosophy of wisdom and justice. And they will all be sharing their stories at the upcoming Stoics Care online conference on April 23, 2022. If you’ve ever wondered what Stoicism has to say about caring for other people, join us for a day of presentations, meditation, practical workshops, and discussion with experts and practicing Stoics from all over the world.
Those new to Stoicism might be surprised to learn that, contrary to popular belief, Stoics care deeply about the world around them, including other people. Seneca says of Stoicism that “no school has more goodness and gentleness; none has more love for human beings, nor more attention to the common good” (Seneca, On Clemency, 3.3).
Surely it’s one of the great ironies of history that, over the centuries, Stoicism has often been re-branded and misrepresented as an uncaring or self-serving philosophy. It’s definitely time for us Stoics to step out of the shadow of this stereotype and spotlight the social and caring side of Stoicism.
Stoics Care Conference – April 23
At the Stoics Care conference, you will hear from scholars, teachers, parents, and people from all walks of life who draw inspiration from Stoicism. Talks will be both theoretical and practical, explaining the theoretical basis for our relationship to other people, as well as practical ways of relating to and caring about others. Speakers include:
- Donald Robertson, speaking on Stoicism, Love, and Friendship
- Meredith Kunz, speaking on Stoicism and Compassion
- Will Johncock, speaking on Caring for the Self by Caring for Others, and
- Paul Wilson speaking on Stoic Self Care.
We will also feature a guided meditation by StoicDan, to help put you in the right frame of mind for Stoic care.
And because Stoics also care about the planet, Kai Whiting will be joining us to provide practical tips for sustainability.
Click here to see the full program of events, and register for the conference
We also want to share the stories of people who take a Stoic approach to their personal or professional caregiving roles. Stoics like Nona Maiorano, the horseback riding instructor, will be telling you how they use Stoicism to train, assist, and interact with other people. At the end of the conference you will have the chance to connect with other attendees who have similar interests. Our goal is for everyone to gain insights both from the presenters and from each other. We know many of you already use Stoicism to help care for others, and we want to hear from you!
The Stoic Fellowship’s “1000 Stoics” Challenge
The Stoics Care conference is running alongside The Stoic Fellowship’s Month of Service and Care and 1000 Stoics Challenge, both of which are taking place in April. These initiatives encourage Stoics all over the world to show kindness and care to other people in their lives. For example, this year Stoa Madrid will be hosting a social activity with the elderly on April 29, the European Day of Solidarity Between Generations. Earth Day takes place on April 22, so it’s the perfect time to show a little love to our planet by joining a community cleanup or starting your own vegetable garden.
It’s easy to get involved in the 1000 Stoics challenge. If you’re a member of a local Stoa, you can collaborate on a service project with other members of your group. Or volunteer your time as an individual in your community or online. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Send a letter or email to someone in your life, letting them know you appreciate them
- Clean out your closet and donate items to charity
- Volunteer at a shelter or food bank
- Donate blood
- Pay it forward: buy a coffee for the person standing in line behind you
- Check out Volunteer Match (volunteermatch.org) to find local volunteer opportunities that match your interests and skills
- Transcribe important historical documents for the Smithsonian Institute (https://transcription.si.edu/)
- Find an online volunteer opportunity that matches your skillset: United Nations (https://www.unv.org/) or Catchafire (https://www.catchafire.org/)
Whatever your act of kindness is, please share the care with others on social media (using #1000Stoics and #StoicsCare) and via our Google form. By keeping us up to date on your efforts, you will inspire others and help us know when we reach our goal of 1000 acts of kindness!
Caring for Caregivers
Many people rely on Stoicism to help them stay afloat in the demanding caregiving roles they have. These include parents, teachers, healthcare professionals, first responders, therapists, and many more. Practicing Stoics know how powerful Stoicism can be in the face of stress, hardship, and situations outside our control. That is why we recently launched Stoicare, a nonprofit organization that aims to support caregivers’ wellbeing through Stoicism.
Stoicare’s mission is to provide a supportive community and targeted resources to help caregivers survive and even thrive. We want to reinforce key Stoic messages and techniques for all those hardworking caregivers who make the world go round. If you are in a caregiving role, check out our toolkits, blog, and other materials designed especially for you.
Share the Care
Caring is an essential part of being human. By helping each other, we create a happier life for ourselves and everyone around us. In the words of Marcus Aurelius—whose birthday happens to be on April 26:
A human being is formed by nature to benefit others, and, when he has performed some benevolent action or accomplished anything else that contributes to the common good, he has done what he was constituted for, and has what is properly his. (Meditations, 9.42)
Please join us this April (and all year long!) as we support those around us and share our care through Stoicism.
Brittany Polat writes about Stoic psychology, development, and motivation at Living in Agreement. She is a member of the Modern Stoicism team, the cofounder of Stoicare, and a board member of the Stoic Fellowship, and holds a Ph.D. in applied linguistics. You can also find and follow her on Twitter.