The Federalist Publisher Ben Domenech hosted Ryan Holiday, author and host of “The Daily Stoic,” on Fox News’s “The Ben Domenech Podcast” on Monday. Holiday discussed his newest book “Courage Is Calling: Fortune Favors the Brave,” and how the virtue of courage plays into questions of politics and culture today.
Holiday is writing on each of four stoic virtues: courage, temperance, justice, and wisdom. “The idea is that these are sort of four pivotal virtues that the good life depends on,” he said. “A lot of people are struggling precisely because they don’t have a core set of values.”
“How do you think about courage as being, not just standing up for something, but standing up for the right thing?” Domenech asked.
“The virtues are inseparable,” Holiday concluded, “because courage in the pursuit of an unjust aim, it might be courageous but it’s not virtuous.” He referenced the infamous “Charge of the Light Brigade” as an example of courage “that we do have to respect, but then as individuals we have to always think about, ‘Well, why am I doing this and does it really matter?'”
Holiday also cited the importance of courage in daily actions. “We can find ourselves in a position where a lack of day-to-day courage puts us in a desperate moment where we have to be courageous, that had we just been a little braver a year earlier, five years earlier, we never would have been in such desperate straits.”
“In the context of the current pandemic, there is a real dynamic of the language of courage being embraced and afforded to people who are either refusing to follow government orders or who are taking stands against it that are essentially costing them their jobs,” Domenech noted.
“Obviously we need people like that in society, we need people who are resistant to the pressures of an overwhelming majority,” Holiday agreed, but added, “I think we can both acknowledge the lonliness of the stand and question the validity of the stand.”
Holiday and Domenech also discussed the interaction of courage and cancel culture.
“Tell me a little bit about the courage that it takes to stand up against that mob, because that’s not something that I feel like we’ve had historically to the degree that we have it today because of the immediacy and the audience involved with social media,” Domenech asked. “Talk to me about the degree to which that has changed the demands of courage on the average American citizen.”
“I actually think cancel culture goes way back and was probably worse in the ancient world in the sense that today maybe you lose your job but in the past you got exiled,” Holiday argued. “I think cancel culture is real, it’s certainly alarming; as individuals, the idea of participating in calling for people’s jobs or piling on is sort of shameful and embarrassing. I also think as creators or as thought leaders or whatever you want to call it, that’s a reality of the profession and you have to proceed despite it.”
Listen to the full interview here.