Mattis: This Is The One Book Every American Should Read

Code Red News
USNI/Youtube

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis thinks every American should read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.


After giving a speech to cadets at the Virginia Military Institute on Tuesday, Mattis was asked what he would hypothetically tell every American to read. Meditations — which he frequently consults and recommends, was at the top of his list.

"Especially in Washington D.C., with all the political heave and ho that I try to keep the Department of Defense out of, there can be a sense at times, my fine young cadet, that it’s the first time anyone’s dealt with something like X, Y, or Z. And certainly in combat the reason I kept a tattered copy in my rucksack to pull out at times was it allowed me to look at things with a little distance," Mattis said.

Written as a series of private notes to himself over a 20-year-period, the Roman emperor offered his ideas on the Stoic philosophy and how he overcame challenges in his daily life.

Fortunately, he wrote in fairly plain language, making his thoughts still accessible to this day.

"And so Marcus Aurelius had a very tough life," Mattis said. "He’s the Emperor of Rome but he’s got everything going wrong in his home life. His wife and his son were not people that you’d want to spend much time with. He spends almost all of his time up on the fringes of the Empire trying to protect the thing and the one time he leaves the German forest seems to be to go kill one of his friends who’s revolted against him in another place. It was a tough life and yet the humility and the dignity with which he conducted his life — the commitment to his country, to his troops, really comes through as you read those pages."

There's a good reason why Meditations is one of Mattis' favorites. In the world of politics and back-stabbing that is Washington, D.C., the stoic ideals shine through as philosophical armor against the daily bulls--t. Like, for example, this: "If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment."

Consider this  passage, which can easily be ascribed to a variety of people Mattis has to deal with on a daily basis:

"When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions."

Beyond Meditations, Mattis also said you "could do no better" than to read the autobiography of Ulysses S. Grant.

"I think his memoirs would be the one if you want something that’s perhaps not quite so ancient," he said. "I really didn’t serve with Marcus Aurelius, I just look that old; okay?"

You can watch his full speech below, or click here for some more on Mattis' favorite books.

(U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland)

GREENBELT, Md. (Reuters) - A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant accused of amassing a cache of weapons and plotting to attack Democratic politicians and journalists was ordered held for two weeks on Thursday while federal prosecutors consider charging him with more crimes.

Read More Show Less
An undated image of Hoda Muthana provided by her attorney, Hassan Shibly. (Associated Press)

Attorneys for the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America have filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump asking the court to recognize the citizenship of an Alabama woman who left the U.S. to join ISIS and allow she and her young son to return to the United States.

Read More Show Less
U.S. soldiers surveil the area during a combined joint patrol in Manbij, Syria, November 1, 2018. Picture taken November 1, 2018. (U.S. Army/Zoe Garbarino/Handout via Reuters)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will leave "a small peacekeeping group" of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a U.S. pullout, the White House said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump pulled back from a complete withdrawal.

Read More Show Less
Construction crews staged material needed for the Santa Teresa Border Wall Replacement project near the Santa Teresa Port of Entry. (U.S. Customs and Border Patrol/Mani Albrecht)

With a legal fight challenge mounting from state governments over the Trump administration's use of a national emergency to construct at the U.S.-Mexico border, the president has kicked his push for the barrier into high gear.

On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted a time-lapse video of wall construction in New Mexico; the next day, he proclaimed that "THE WALL IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION RIGHT NOW"

But there's a big problem: The footage, which was filmed more than five months ago on Sep. 18, 2018, isn't really new wall construction at all, and certainly not part of the ongoing construction of "the wall" that Trump has been haggling with Congress over.

Read More Show Less
(From left to right) Chris Osman, Chris McKinley, Kent Kroeker, and Talon Burton

A group comprised of former U.S. military veterans and security contractors who were detained in Haiti on weapons charges has been brought back to the United States and arrested upon landing, The Miami-Herald reported.

The men — five Americans, two Serbs, and one Haitian — were stopped at a Port-au-Prince police checkpoint on Sunday while riding in two vehicles without license plates, according to police. When questioned, the heavily-armed men allegedly told police they were on a "government mission" before being taken into custody.

Read More Show Less