Editor’s Note: After reading “Meditations,” I was filled to the brim with the Stoic philosophies of the great Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Simple yet profound truths like, “You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” Many of us are frustrated with the state of affairs in our country today, and it is causing us great stress. Pondering this, I wondered what one of the greatest thinkers and military leaders in history would have to say about the current state of affairs in the US. What follows is the result of my putting myself in the shoes of the Roman leader for a few minutes. I hope you find it enlightening. –GDM

American Flag
An American flag rendered in the style of Jackson Pollock. Original illustration from SOFREP

There exists a society far removed from the Rome that I once knew – a land named America. It’s a nation thriving on innovation, brimming with individuals of diverse origins, each contributing their unique ideas and talents to a vast mosaic of life.

One cannot overlook the wonders that their technology has brought forth. A kind of magic allowing instantaneous communication across vast expanses, the power to heal and cure diseases that were once thought incurable, machines capable of imitating human thought and action. Such progress would have been unthinkable in my time. The value of these marvels lies in their potential to uplift the human condition, to allow the mind more time for contemplation, and to ease the suffering of the body.

Yet, with all their progress, I also see a society in turmoil. There is a disquiet, a disharmony amongst the people. A focus on division and conflict over shared goals and commonality. In their discourse, they seem to forget that we are all members of a greater whole, citizens of the universe. ‘Mankind,’ as I have written, ‘each of us is a part of the other.’

This nation has amassed great wealth, yet it struggles to distribute this prosperity equitably amongst its citizens. To witness such poverty amidst plenty would dismay the stoic heart. The virtue of justice, it seems, is yet a work in progress.

Moreover, they seem caught in a dance of constant distraction. In the pursuit of more—more wealth, more pleasure, more recognition—they risk losing sight of the value of the present moment. As I have observed, ‘Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.’

In observing America, I find a reflection of Rome, of the triumphs and tribulations we faced in our quest for greatness. For even as society evolves, the fundamental challenges of human life remain. Yet, it is in overcoming these challenges, in striving for virtue, wisdom, justice, and temperance, that we may find our purpose and our peace.