Why study dead old men? Cicero quote

Posted by veritas on Nov 21, 2012 9:08:59 AM

There have been numerous speculations about my absence from the Leaky Bucket. Here are a few answers:

  1. I did not give way to despair after the election (at least I did not give way for more than 12 hours).
  2. I was not blown away by Sandy.
  3. I have not given into my obvious Luddite tendency and sworn off all technology (on the contrary...).

The problems have been a lot work and some tech problems that are smoothly out. I have been storing up smooth stones in my pouch, so I am going to be back with a vengeance. Start ducking.

Some have asked over the years why we spend so much time reading ancient authors. Here is a quote from Cicero that might give help with an answer. Cicero was one of the greatest and last proponents of the Republic. He was watching the Republic crumble around him as a ruler, Julius Caesar, bought the favor of the army and the crowds. He spoke boldly against this demagoguery. Unlike our talking heads, he hits the root problem on the head. It is not a problem with the ruler. It is a problem with the people. Here is the quote:

“Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and gave him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of “the new, wonderful, good society” which shall now be Rome’s, interpreted to mean: more money, more ease, more security, more living fault at the expense of the industrious.”

The path of freedom is a hard path. It takes diligence, industry, work, work and more work. It is worth the difficulty. Before we start blaming others, however, we need to see that the problem is our desire for ease that we have not earned, money that we do not have, security that we can not keep without discipline and hard work. We are living now in a fantasy. Both of our political parties market themselves more or less on this fantasy. They do so because we will not tolerate anyone who tells us the truth. We stone the prophets. Until we stop this, until we grow sick of the fantasy, there is nothing that anyone can do for us.

I have to get my students to see that what is happening around them is something like a mass hallucination. This is a difficult task. It made easier when we see that the same thing has happened before.



Topics: Education, President Obama, Democracy, Economy, Politics