“Where is Good? In our reasoned choices. Where is Evil? In our reasoned choices. Where is that which is neither Good nor Evil? In the things outside of our own reasoned choice.”EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 2.16.1
When I was reading today’s quote, I was reminded of a couple of other posts I’ve written in the recent past.
One of them highlights that events are neither good nor bad — they don’t carry any inherent value in that sense, until we ascribe it to them. Events just are. They occur independently of our judgment, which we tend to apply without realizing it.
The other article drove home a similar point: that change isn’t good or bad, it just happens… and how we receive or view it (negatively or positively) depends heavily on how we choose to receive that change, and our perspective as we do so.
Today’s page in The Daily Stoic drives home a similar point, and perhaps at a simpler level. Good and evil are born from your choices. They don’t come from external events or life changes — those things occur independently of us, and are outside of our control. The only thing that is within our control is our reasoned choice. And it’s your choice that drives the right or wrong decision.
Want to do good? It comes from inside you, from your choices. Likewise, if you do evil, there’s no one (and no event or life circumstance) that you can blame aside from yourself. Making the right decision will come if you look inward and use your rational mind, instead of looking externally to things beyond your grasp.