Saturday, August 22, 2015

Bread and Circuses

I am a big proponent of reading, especially history.

There is a huge difference between reading for leisure and reading for study, but even the distance between the two kinds of reading broadens to a chasm when it becomes a comparison of reading to general media consumption. General media simply being the consumption of television, video games and other kinds of, what I call, "candy" stimulants. 
This is why I view the state of our dying Republic as a tragedy unfolding before our very eyes. The point of reading is to challenge and exercise your brain. Reading stimulates thought and contemplation, it provides a variety of worldviews to the reader as well as revealing patterns of human conduct throughout the centuries.

There is a reason that many of the darkest periods of human history were the product of the uneducated masses ruled by the "enlightened" elite. Think of the feudal system, serfs were taxed a hefty portion of their income to live in subjection (or as it was promoted, 'under the protection') of a lord. There were no schools or libraries for the serfdom, they simply accepted their place within the system. 

Now think of the Enlightenment era, the emergence of new, counter cultural philosophers brought to the forefront of humanity new ideas about life, liberty and property. People began to shake off old ways of governance and take part in self rule. Systems that promoted the freedom of the individual emerged. All because of education.

Think of what the fascists and national socialists did to consolidate power. Their goal was a state based curriculum in schools, approved by the elite. Books were banned and burned. Coercive power always fears the questioning individual. Instead those who want to obtain and maintain power over others will generally say "we know what's best for you, trust us". Those who won't shut up are violently silenced while the majority lies in contented compliance.

I say these things because human nature has an extraordinary capacity to tolerate evil, yet we also have a drive for freedom within us. We must maintain that balance and constantly challenge the predominant power structures. 

We mustn't be content with being entertained constantly, but rather we should perpetually seek out our purpose in our brief moments here.

Reading is the way to enter that journey. Too many people my age don't hunger for truth and knowledge. They are happy glorifying themselves on their narcissistic social media sites, they are consumed with following the newest reality TV drama, or if they watch a political debate it is simply to see a famous personality rather than to civically engage.

This is a recipe for tyranny.

Life isn't about benefitting ourselves. It is about seeking God and securing freedom for others so that they may seek God as well. It's about living in such a way that we diminish our self importance, and elevate others.

As the Roman Republic waned their Republican form of government was corrupted by self serving senators, large business special interests, a massive state which caused the wealth gap between rich and poor to widen ever incrasingly. Sound familiar?

The rich get richer. The poor get poorer. Politicians were bought and paid for.

Julius Ceaser was a champion of "the People" crusading against the cronyism of the Republic. He ignited a civil war and succeeded in that endeavor. He also became Rome's first dictator, issuing in an era of emperors both good and bad, but the Republic died with him.

Eventually the empire collapsed and Europe was thrust into the dark ages. 

I see our country following our ancestor's footsteps. It won't be long before we have our very own Dark Age. 

The only way to prevent this is to unplug. To study and talk to others. To engage in our political process and change the game. To learn what a gift freedom truly is.

Don't be content to be entertained. Revolt against the businesses who fleece you for profit and view you as some target demographic. Assert your place as a person. A person of character and virtue. 

A person of wisdom who won't be fooled by bread and circuses.

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