dialect, its own traditions, its own heroes, its inside jokes,nand of course, its own laws, leaders, and specific rulesnregarding succession to command.nMy name appears to this day in official navy records as anman whose government-paid postgraduate education wasnnever utilized. The bureaucracy scores my 24 months atnStanford a waste of money because I was shot down before Inever had a chance to take that Washington job they had innmind for me. But what better preparation for head-ofgovernmentnof an autonomous colony for nearly eight yearsnthan concentrated study just prior on “The Problems ofnGood and Evil”? And the lessons of Epictetus paid off innpure gold.nThe hardships were many, bones were broken, deathnvisited some, but most of us were sure, deep inside, that wenwere on the right track by staying with internals, by refusingnto make deals, by building a clandestine civilization, bynseeking and finding purpose in serving each other, in annotherwise purposeless world.nDifficulties are what show men’s character.nTherefore, when a difficult crisis meets you,nremember that you are as the raw youth whomnGod the trainer is wrestiing.nTo the skeptic, I add one assertion: No psychotics came outnwith us. Every man felt good about himself That’s thendifference.nDid I undergo another transitional decompression, anreordering of values, as I reentered this modern world ofnfreedom? The answer is no. I couldn’t generate the samenkind of turmoil in my mind that occurred when I firstnreentered the world of bureaucratic infighting and expediencynfrom the halls of Stanford’s philosophy corner. I wasnhappy with the philosophic tilt I brought out of prison.nOnce you’ve spent a few years as a target for the harpoons ofnfear and guilt in the hermetic hotbox of a political prison,nyou develop a very keen sensitivity for the first hints of thenonset of an extortionistic squeeze play. We who are innhierarchies—whether they are academic, business, military,nor some other sort—are always in positions in whichnpeople are trying to manipulate us, to get moral leverage onnus. The only defense is to keep yourself clean—never to donor say anything of which you can be made to feel ashamed.nA smart person, an ethical person, never gives a manipulatornan even break. He is always prepared to quench thenextortionist’s artful insinuation of guilt with the ice water ofna truthful, clear-conseienced put-down.nThe more benign the environment, the more insidious isnthe extortionist’s style. How true the Arthurian legend:n”Then Arthur learned, as all leaders are astonished to learn,nthat peace, not war, is the destroyer of men; that tranquillity,nrather than danger, is the mother of cowardice; and thatnnot need, but plenty, brings apprehension and unease.”nEpictetus’ tactics, particularly staying off the hook, arenvery good advice for those who seek dignity in our modernnbureaueratized society. A few years ago I originated andntaught a course at Stanford entitied “Combatting Coercionnand Manipulation.” Though we concentrated on applicationsnof the course in everyday life, I chose our ease studiesnnot from office politics but from prison literature (the trialnand death of Socrates, the confrontation of Christ bynDostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor, the interrogations of Koestler’snCommissar Rubashov by Ivanov and Gletkin, a day innthe life of Ivan Denisovich, and Epictetus’ and my saga).nStoicism was a matter of deep curiosity to the students.nThere was much discussion about the sense of freedom andndignity it can spawn, about how its adherents so differednfrom moderns in never thinking of themselves as victims,nabout its being a seedbed for the idea of the brotherhood ofnmen, all sharing common status as humans, all born withninnate and highly principled ideas and with a touch of thendivine.nFor we come into this world with no innatenconception of a right-angled triangle, or of anquarter-tone or of a semi-tone, but we are taughtnwhat each of these means by systematic instruction;nand therefore those who are ignorant of these thingsndo not think that they know them.nOn the other hand every one has come into thenworld with an innate conception as to good andnbad, noble and shameful, becoming andnunbecoming, happiness and unhappiness, fittingnand inappropriate, what is right to do and what isnwrong.nAm I personally still committed to Epictetus’ Principle ofnLife? Yes, but not in the sense of following a memorizedndoctrine. I sometimes become amused at how I havenapplied it, and continue to apply it, unconsciously. Onenstory will serve as an example.nAs the months and years wear on in solitary confinement,nit turns out that a man goes crazy if he fails tonintroduce some ritual into his life. I mean by that anself-imposed obligation to do certain things in a certainnorder each day. Like most prisoners, I prayed some eachnday, month after month continually altering and refining anlong memorized monologue that probably ran to 10 or 15nminutes. Somewhere along the years, my frame of mindnbecame so pure (this, too, happens in solitary) that I startedndeleting any begging from God, any requests of God thatnwould work specifically for my benefit. This didn’t comenout of any new Principle of Life that J had developed; it justnsuddenly started to seem unbecoming to beg. I knew thenlesson of The Book of Job, that life is not fair. What claimnhad I for special consideration? By then I had seen enoughnmisery to realize that He had enough to worry aboutnwithout trying to appease a crybaby like me. And so it hasnbeen ever since.nI never thought about the implications of this untilnrecently when I reread A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,nand it struck home that Solzhenitsyn had the simple soldiernIvan hold the opinion that it is immoral to ask God for anynmore than your daily bread. It suddenly dawned on me:nHow Stoic can you get? Ivan and I, so different innbackground and what is normally called native culture,neach caught in so different a predicament (he never alone, 1nalways alone), yet each drawing on a wisdom born ofnextortion and hardship, a wisdom best articulated by ourncommon ancestor in hardship, the crippled Greek slave,n2000 years before. Through Epictetus, Ivan and I becamenbrothers. Such messages come only through the classics.nnnMARCH 1987 /17n