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Virtue is Strength

If you had to define virtue in one word it would be “strength.” In English we use the same root word when we say virility. Virility means a special kind of power. So does virtue.

The Stoic School teaches that strength is a good thing. This is basic to human nature and Nature in general. Nature rewards the strongest in a species with survival and progeny. Nature is a place of struggle. The earth is a place where all animals must exert constant activity to live and must exercise great strength to get ahead. Those who lose their energy fall behind and perish. 

Human society also rewards athletes of great strength or speed. You don’t find yourself wishing you were weaker, do you? 

But, the Stoic School teaches about a strength more powerful than muscles.

First, think about an army. History shows that the most athletic soldiers do not always win. A smaller army with better strategy and equipment often defeats a larger force. Why? Second, a runner or boxer who has beaten a certain opponent previously might lose to him during the Olympics because the opponent trained harder and kept a stricter diet. Third, a weaker army can rout a greater one when the stronger flees the battle field.  Fourth, The ancient play The Suppliants by Euripides illustrates a special kind of power. In the play, the women have no physical power to retrieve the bodies of their dead loved ones who were killed in a battle, because the victors wanted them to rot in the open and be eaten by animals, so what mysterious strength empowered the mothers, wives, and daughters to win?

Our cultural grandparents called the first kind of strength “Wisdom,” the second “Temperance,” the third “Courage,” and the fourth “Justice.”

1) Wisdom is “being smart,” “thinking things through,” “making good decisions.” 

2) Temperance is self-control, self-discipline, and the ability to choose the difficult path that is good rather than the easy paths that are bad.

3) Courage means fortitude, bravery in the face of danger and pain, and risking personal safety, wealth, and reputation in the interest of something more noble.

4) Justice is doing the right thing, recognizing a higher morality than even human laws, and successfully harmonizing with Nature rather than only reading and talking about it.

The Stoic School teaches that the purpose of human life is Virtue. 

Even in human society, Nature requires constant energy to live, to be healthy, to be wise, to control yourself, to be brave, and to be fair to all.

An evidence that Nature intends mankind to be virtuous is that Nature gave humanity the potential for all these strengths. We know of no other creatures with the potential to develop the four Cardinal Virtues as we mean them here. Nature has attributes that can only be understood by those who practice wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice. We live in Nature more and more only as we grow in Virtue more and more. 

Another indication that Virtue is our purpose in life is that virtues bind us in stronger friendship with our fellow citizens, our friends, and our family. We are political animals. Nature provides no other species with a social structure anything like human society. There are no other species with commerce, technology, musical instruments, clothing, conversations, etc. anything like human society. But, along with our need to socialize in our uniquely human way, we see that virtue is what binds us together in the bonds of good faith necessary to produce thriving human societies. Individuals who practice Virtue are bound with their friends in stronger bonds of friendship and are praiseworthy among their countrymen. Those who practice vice suffer in their public and private relationships.

We call Wisdom, Temperance, Courage, and Justice the Cardinal Virtues. They remind us of the cardinal directions North, South, East, and West. With only four directions you can get from wherever you are to wherever you need to be in two-dimensional space.  In life, you need a different dimension of directions – virtues.

With the Cardinal Virtues, you can get from any circumstance you are in to where you need to be. The four virtues form a coordinate system that surely navigates you through your entire life, with “magnetic north” being the Good. Whatever crisis or reversal befalls you, the way to maintain happiness and to get where you need to be is always a combination of these four virtues.

The mother of all the virtues is Gratitude. All virtues are a combination of Wisdom, Temperance, Courage, and Justice, and those Cardinal Virtues come from Gratitude. Wisdom, Temperance, Courage, and Justice are the natural response to gratitude for what Nature has done for us, what our friends have done for us, and what our country has done for us.

From Our Global Readers - Stoic School Plans

- from Carlo B.

I read every word on your website but I couldn't fully understand what the Stoic School wants to do. I'm getting the impression that you want to establish a new Stoic country...? Where will it be located? Will the Stoic School claim "victory" over Eastern and Middle Eastern ways through warfare or just through ideological persuasion? Because there is a picture of ancient soldiers and modern soldiers on your website. I have been practicing Stoicism long before I knew about it, which happened fairly recently. I wish to know what are the School's plans exactly? Do you have a timeline for the goals you set out to do?

 

- by Cato the Younger

Dear Carlo,

Thank you for reading our website and for feeling free to ask us your questions.
 
First, there is a difference between Stoics and the Stoic School. For example, Marcus Aurelius was a Stoic, but he never was connected with the Stoic School itself. Another example is Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale. He trained himself in Stoicism, as is clear from his speech printed here https://www.usna.edu/Ethics/_files/documents/stoicism1.pdf. However, Vice Admiral Stockdale never had formal training in the School. The point here is Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Vice Admiral Stockdale had distinguished military careers fighting enemies of Western civilization, but Zeno and the other Scholarchs of the School never waged war as part of the School. The School has only used legal means to accomplish its goals, just as individual Stoics always have, according to their legal authority and rights.
 
That is the tradition of the Stoic School to this day. The Stoic School was established by Zeno to teach accurate Stoicism, to carry on the spirituality of Stoicism, and to mentor, tutor, and champion the West By All Legal Means (BALM). We heal the West and defeat its enemies by using this BALM.
 
Second, the Stoic School has several projects (or "plans"). Currently, the biggest project is Project GENESIS. The video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmwSSwfN4zY shows in an artistic way that the School is unapologetically pro-Western. We believe the West is peerless in its authentic culture. We work to anni- hilate cultural attacks that have infiltrated Western nations, and we add to the glory of Western culture each generation, but we are convinced that the civilization that has been passed on to us is by far the strongest, most creative, and most beautiful in history. So, we do not intend to conquer the world or anything like that. There is room enough on earth for every peaceful people and for all people with good will toward us. Also, there is no need for a future claim of "victory" over Eastern and Middle Eastern ways, because Stoicism is already more virtuous than them, as far as we have found.
 
Project GENESIS is not intended to be a "Stoic country." It is a research and development campus for testing several ancient Stoic writings on energy production, for displaying buildings built with sacred geometry, for understanding epigenetics, and for demonstrating the ancient wisdom of small-city planning that creates strong communities for the thriving of our people. It will be located in a Western nation, and we are currently considering several properties. Once the property is finalized we will post information on our website and will be able to develop a meaningful public timeline.
 
Third, one of the major duties, or plans, of the School is to preserve the ancient writings of Stoicism from the past 23 centuries. Most of the writings are unavailable to the Academics (universities and museums). Another duty, or plan, of the School is training the next generation of authentic Stoics. Another duty is continuing the advanced wisdom of Stoicism that enables the well-trained to tap into the very forces of Nature itself to bring national victory. Another duty is to use fortitude and the strength of Nature to eliminate threats to the West and its spiritual security.These are several of the School's exact plans. They are on-going plans, and they follow dynamic internal timelines created by the appropriate Consul, or Governor, or the School's Senate, as changing circumstances dictate.
 
If you have other questions, please feel free to write me again at Director@StoicSchool[dot]com.
 
Please consider our online training programs. Students can understand most of Stoicism only when they practice it through mentored training. All you need to do is request information about our free online training on our site at http://stoicschool.org/contact
 
Please consider, at some point, membership, because members have access to more "insider information" via other members and internal memos.

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