Paying the Piper

“There is no evil that does not offer inducements. Avarice promises money; luxury, a varied assortment of pleasures; ambition, a purple robe and applause, and the influence which results from applause, and all that influence can do. Vices tempt you by the rewards which they offer; but in the life of which I speak, you must live without being paid. Scarcely will a whole life-time suffice to bring our vices into subjection and to make them accept the yoke, swollen as they are by long-continued indulgence; and still less, if we cut into our brief span by any interruptions.” – Seneca. Epistulae Morales AD Lucilium

As the final act of this season’s performance of the endless play draws near, I am reminded that it does no good to be angry, jealous or envious of the .1% who accumulate ever more wealth and power to themselves. In the end, the result will be the same as it always has been, with the playing field leveled, the debris swept away and the start of the new season of “Who gets to be King of the Mountain?”.

How then should I live my life in the interim, chasing the carrots dangled by the puppet masters, railing against the injustice, or giving into despair? I will do none of these, but will instead recognize the cycle that I am a part of, and will attempt to live my life according to the values and virtues I have chosen, while ignoring the temptations and distractions of the circus.

The true rewards of living a virtuous life are internal – If I am doing so simply to receive the praise and admiration of others I am as guilt as the fallen. As Seneca says, “I must live without getting paid”. However it is the lack of that pay, and all the obligations that come with it, that frees me to truly be happy and unencumbered by expectations to meet the demands of others.

Likewise, I will not be angry with the fallen or those who brought (or bought) them to that state, but rather pity them all, because a lifetime will truly not be enough to remove the chains they have shackled themselves with.

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