Letter from the principal


A Dichotomy of Control

Some men see things and say “why?

I dream things that never were and say “why not?” 

George Bernard Shaw


Dear CSSW Families, Staff and Friends,

As we bid farewell to the 2023-24 school year, I am pleased to recognize this year’s graduates as they cross over to the next segment of their educational journey.  It is not easy to be a “young adult” these days:  our society is complex and confusing, one hears so many disparate voices, and there are so many expectations from others to fulfill.

In these times of anxiety and uncertainty, it is tempting to yearn for principles that can buffer us from daily confusion and threats to our sense of security.  Since the exactitude of life changes are inherently unknowable, the best perspective to maintain is one of affirmative skepticism.  We don’t know for sure what will happen, but we perpetually integrate all the available data to make sense of what transpires day to day.  

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus describes this “dichotomy of control” that emphasizes the distinction between things that are within our control and things that are not. It’s a method of remaining calm when everything else seems chaotic.  How do we focus on maintaining control under difficult circumstances so we can manage our emotional responses?  

In modern life, stress and anxiety are usually chronic, not episodic.  This means we must find a more sustained method of achieving cognitive control. Instead of striving to discover the “truth or the “real self,” we should be ever striving to becoming stronger, wiser, and more fulfilled. We construct ourselves by assembling our experiences, desires, and actions through a continuous act of self-creation, and to never relinquish the fight for intelligent, mature thought.

The world is richer than what we can see, and coincidences are clues to its concealed depths. But let’s take the opposite position — that there’s a careless randomness to life.  This thesis emphasizes the iterative nature of experience across time and argues that the outcomes we observe don’t change until we change the story. That is the crucial link between private individual experience, and actual positive changes in the world.  

On behalf of the CSSW Board of Directors and Staff, we wish you all the best in your future endeavors.


F. J. Chu