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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Epictetus and the Enslavement of Your Mind

“If a person gave away your body to some passerby, you’d be furious. Yet you hand over your mind to anyone who comes along so they may abuse you, leaving it disturbed and troubled – have you no shame in that?”

Epictetus, Enchiridion, 28

People like to think more highly of themselves, but the truth is that if you are like the vast majority of people in the world, you are quick to believe what you are told to believe, especially if it is something that reinforces a bias you already have. People instinctively trust sources that seem reliable. The mainstream media is only mainstream because it’s of all the different streams of information, Fox News, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS etc.  are the main streams of information people prefer.  People also are likely to believe bias reinforcing information when they hear from their congressman, the White House Press Secretary, or a scholarly journal. When people see information from a “trusted” institution, they are usually quick to surrender their minds and accept what they are told.

Every night when we go to bed we lock our doors because we aren’t comfortable trusting people with access to our homes while we sleep. But when it comes to safeguarding our mind we’re less concerned about who we let have access to it. We open the door to strangers on social media. We let any headline that comes across our social media feed immediately affect us – without even clicking on the link and reading the article, we’ve already “liked” it, shared it or commented on it. We judge headlines and what social media “friends” are saying about important issues rather than looking inward and reflecting on who are and who we want to be.  

It’s one thing to understand the value of locking your door at night to protect you from people that want to rob you of your property, take you, or take your life. But it is just as important to understand that every day, the world is trying to get inside our mind and rob us of our ability to think for ourselves. We must protect our minds – if our minds ability to think weren’t valuable, political parties and media giants wouldn’t be spending all their money trying to manipulate it.

If you want your mind to find freedom – commit it to the truth. Don’t settle for believing headlines that reinforce something you already believe or want to believe, instead, look deeper to see if it is true. Even the author of Acts in the New Testament of the Bible encourages Christians to be like the Bereans who had an open mind and were ready to believe whatever the truth was but they weren’t ready to accept anyone’s teachings as true until they searched out the scriptures and verified accuracy of what they were being taught. This, Acts says was a noble thing. Committing to truth is always an attribute of nobility.  In fact I would say that without a love for truth, there is no nobility. If you want to strive for genuine greatness, you must be committed to seeking out the truth.

To the point being made by Epictetus, you would never consent to giving up your freedom and allowing yourself to essentially become enslaved – why then would be so quick to give up your mind and allow it to lead you into enslavement? It is a shameful thing to give up your mind.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.

JOHN 8:32

Paul Curtman is a veteran of the U. S. Marine Corps, an author, conference speaker, and statesman. For nearly 20 years, Paul has helped lead and develop leaders in the United States military, public service sectors, and business. Paul is a strong advocate for personal and economic freedom as well as the strength and integrity of the free market system. He is a Fellow at Club for Growth in Washington D.C. and currently lives in Missouri with his wife, Ruth, and their four children.

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