November 21, 2022

Stoicism in Times of Crisis

This evening, my husband and I watched the 1997 survival thriller, The Edge. If you haven't watched it, consider this a warning: I'm spilling spoilers.

It's a story of survival in the wilderness.

Three passengers survived a plane crash. They were left with only their clothes, a bag of flares, and one knife, with no experience in wilderness survival. No one knows where they went, and they're unsure if anyone will come rescue them.

Anthony Hopkins played the protagonist, Charles Morse. While his two companions, Bob and Steve, were quick to panic, he remained calm and handled the whole situation with presence of mind.

It reminded me of stoicism. Of accepting events outside of our control.

Charles accepted that they shouldn't simply wait for rescue. He was aware that panicking will only quicken their deaths than prevent them, and he constantly devised plans in his head so that they can walk out of the mountains alive. He has knowledge of bushcraft from books, but he never had to put them to practice until then.

He focused on what he can do: using paperclip as compass, creating spears, setting up traps for food, and starting a fire to keep warm and cook food.

Stoicism kept him sane, while the knowledge he collected in the past kept him alive.

It's a good reminder that when we prepare for hard times (and we should), we must train both our physical and mental abilities. We should be strong in both areas—able to keep a clear, calm, and sharp mind in times of crisis, with skills to help us survive.