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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Z: Raincheck, Please

"It is what it is."

What's your view of this endlessly repeated modern day tautology? Often upon hearing it - especially when it's used to discount pain that people other than the speaker are experiencing - I'm tempted to say well duh ... What else would it be other than what it is?

Zeno, cited as the founder of Stoicism, would likely have been aligned with those who love the whole "is" thing and its corollary - "It's all good". Is it? Reflexively spouting this second bromide - sometimes in an unsubtle attempt to shift from an uncomfortable topic - doesn't make it all good. It also doesn't absolve the speaker of responsibility for interacting with those who don't see it all as good or what it is.  Finally, saying "it's all good" or "it is what it is" doesn't magically erase deeper feelings the speaker might be avoiding. But, feelings are not Z's thing.   

Before any glass half empty clichés get hurled my way, let me say: I embrace and live the notion of looking at the bright side and not dwelling on the negative. And I understand that the use of these two hoary contemporary expressions can be an attempt to interject optimism or realism into a gloomy conversation. That said, I strongly suspect Zeno would have revered men (women couldn't get into his lectures during those particular "good old days") fond of the "...is..." and "...all good..." stuff. I also doubt that Z and I were destined for a bromance. The foundation of Stoicism taught men to be "free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief, and to submit without complaint to unavoidable necessity." I'll pass, thank you.

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