I love having the time and resources to resurrect my college education. “Resurrect” because there were classes like Classical Literature I glossed over, barely attending enough times to pass. Now, thanks to researching my novels, the classics are coming to life for me! Here are a few things gleaned from Meyer Reinhold:
1) Greece never recovered from the loss of wealth and manpower caused by the Peloponnesian War which lasted 27 years from 431-404 BC.
2) There was a growing gap between the large number of poor and the few rich.
3) Disillusionment with government caused a greater concern for self and family.
4) The rise of professional politicians let others avoid civic responsibility.
Re: 1) The U.S. has surpassed the 27-year war by 3. For 30 years, since 1981, there has been continual involvement in military conflicts. Some have been huge, like the Persian Gulf war (1990-1991), and some small like “peacekeeping” operations. Before 1981, a whole generation had been demoralized by the Vietnam War and before that, the Korean War. [Click this link for a good website about this.]
Greece may have lost wealth in their ancient wars, but the U.S. seems to depend on wars for gaining wealth. There is higher employment, more manufacturing, more scientific research, and more support programs when we are fighting somewhere. I could add that there is also more graft and corruption because of the temptation to grab some of the wealth. The current economic wreckage is not because of war but because of financial greed by bankers and investors worldwide who followed the example of the U.S.
Re: 2) Doesn’t the Occupy movement all over the world, pitting the 99% against the 1% , confirm that the gap exists now? There’s not only an economic gap but an idealogical gap, a huge one. Studies have shown that even the extremely rich don’t think they are. There’s always someone richer, someone with more houses, more planes, more everything. They are thus compelled to keep amassing wealth, to be at the top.
Croesus, the enormously rich king of Lydia (560-547 BC), was told by Solon that wealth was not the key to happiness. Croesus dismissed Solon as a fool, but by the end of his reign he realized it was true. [Told by Herodotus.]
Re: 3) When people live together in larger numbers than families, like towns or cities or states, they usually develop a civilized way of cooperating with each other. It is necessary for life. Governments are set up to help people help each other by sharing resources, ideals, and working together. When a government is run by selfish people, corruption inevitably follows.
When politicians parade their love of “family” for show, for gain, that’s selfish. Families are the first building block of a nation because they are the smallest unit of people living and working together. In a good nation, one that genuinely cherishes and supports the family unit, things go well. Some of the more successful nations in this regard are the Scandinavian countries and others who tax heavily so all can benefit.
Here’s an example of non-civilized order. It’s a Somali saying:
I and Somalia against the world.
I and my clan against Somalia.
I and my family against the clan.
I and my brother against the family.
I against my brother.
Re: 4) Good people are often elected to office. After a few years, surrounded by temptations of all kinds, many are corrupted and begin to think more about themselves and their cohorts than about the larger constituency who elected them.
Sometimes I think that there should be no politicians. The responsibility for governing would be entrusted to every adult. Each year, a certain number of names would be drawn from a hat (a large hat) and those chosen would be in charge for one year. Each state would provide housing and per diem so these people could live in Washington D.C. and run the nation during their time in office. No-one could repeat the same job. The Athenians tried something like this and it was successful for a time, but eventually people lost interest and governing fell into the hands of the wealthier few.
It would also be a good idea to move the nation’s capitol to the geographic center so that the East Coasters would learn some humility. Students near D.C. grow up with politics in their backyard. Students west of the Mississippi rarely get a chance to see government in action or feel a part of it.
- Roman gladiators, from the museum in Nimes, France.
If this blog has been too serious, don’t give up. Humor is coming with the Greek comedies!