“Each person acquires their own character, but their official roles are designated by chance. You should invite some to your table because they are deserving, others because they may come to deserve it.”SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 47.15b
There are certain things in life that are “designated by chance” as Seneca puts it in today’s chapter of The Daily Stoic.
These include: what family one is born into, the social status and wealth (or lack thereof) of that family, and the city where one grows up and the opportunity available there. Other examples include one’s relative attractiveness and the doors that may open, the availability of high-quality education where one lives, and whether people have given you opportunities in life or whether they’ve judged you prematurely.
These things can’t be controlled. They weren’t a choice, they were just ‘the luck of the draw’, so to speak.
What is a choice and is under our control is our character — specifically, how we work to improve it and to what end. Character is a better measure of what kind of a person we are. For this reason, when determining who to spend our time with, we should weigh character over position in life.
Position in life is often just a result of a series of random events and happenstance. Character, however, is the result of conscious choice and hard work. It helps to illuminate whether someone should be invited into your life or not.