Sunday, February 13, 2011
A Philosophy for Hard Times
Frequent readers of this site are aware that these are hectic times at Otis. We are engaged in an exciting but stressful process that envisions a new model for delivering library services. The first full iteration will be presented to the staff on March 1 and 2 for vetting, followed by a thorough review, revisions as necessary and a formal presentation to the library’s board at our March 19 retreat. In addition, there is the prospect of another challenging fiscal year in 2011-2012, and all the attendant stress uncertainty causes. Aside from attacking a voluminous pile of literature on corporate culture, embracing change and the future of libraries, I find myself spending a lot of time reading the Stoic philosophers, especially Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations. I am not promoting him or the Stoics as THE answer for coping with hard times, but a philosophy that values reason, thoughtful deliberation and moderation as guides to right conduct in an uncertain world has obvious attractions. There is one caveat I must offer: if you do most of your reading at night you run the risk of entering a deep and sonorous sleep. I speak from personal experience. Try to set aside time during the day if you are committed to a full appreciation of the Stoic world view. The results will be rewarding. For those readers who balk at the thought of reading philosophy in depth, there are places to cultivate a familiarity without a full immersion. In particular, I recommend http://www.spaceandmotion.com/Philosophy-Marcus-Aurelius.htm. At the moment I am particularly drawn to the following observation from Marcus Aurelius: “The noblest kind of retribution is not to become like your enemy. “ Amen!