Growing Tomatoes on Death Row

Growing Tomatoes on Death Row March 21, 2024

In my various courses this semester we have spent a good deal of time developing and discussing a specific moral perspective that provides guidance for how to live a life of meaning and purpose in a world that provides neither directly or easily. In my honors colloquium on Montaigne’s essays, we have explored the influence that the ancient Stoics had on Montaigne as he lived in 16th century France during the violent Wars of Religion.

In my team-taught interdisciplinary course that in its final semester is embedded in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the existentialists–philosophical heirs of the Stoics–teach that even in the middle of a world completely outside of the control of any individual, each of us has the complete freedom to choose how we will respond emotionally, rationally, and physically to what the world gives us. And in my “Apocalypse” colloquium, I spent an early week introducing the students to Epictetus, one of the ancient Stoics, as a possible moral framework to use when analyzing the challenging matieral of the upcoming semester.

I’ve written about all of the above frequently over the years on this blog. But this morning as I listened to the latest episode of “The Moth” podcast as I walked to work, I was blown away by one of the most powerful stories of grace and centeredness under extreme and prolonged pressure that I’ve ever encountered. My normal procedure here would be to provide an 800-1000 word overview of Sunny Jacobs’ story with the link to the podcast episode at the end. In this case, though, I think your next fifteen minutes would be far better sent in simply listening to an incredible story. I’ll be back on Sunday with a Palm Sunday reflection.

Sunny Jacobs on “The Moth”

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