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We Are Still Learning…
Well, let’s hope we are.
Wednesday was the Ides of March, known through Shakespeare as the day that Julius Caesar was assassinated by Romans in 44 BC. That event is cited by many historians as the end of the Roman Republic, a form of government characterized by democratic representation of the people. Victor Davis Hanson wrote and published an article on the American Greatness website asking the question: are we the Byzantines?
I’m 84 years old, so I probably don’t have much time left to try to figure out the answer to questions like the one Hanson poses. I’ve been retired from actively working in the marketplace for almost two decades now and I must say that my education in matters related to understanding humanity and the history of events affecting and involving humanity has proliferated during that period.
The early 2000s really stimulated my personal interest in trying to grasp exactly what direction my country was headed in and what were the driving forces. That makes sense to me since I have been a partner in producing a family that is growing and we have an interest in the future of the members of our family. As soon as one considers that, it becomes obvious that interest must be expanded. How might that go? First, extended family, then community, some refer to as tribal, then nation, and ultimately all of humanity.
That gets big, and as members here at Ricochet know, I don’t have a lot of appreciation for big. Big introduces a variety, most of that being new problems, and management in the interest of the people becomes difficult. But we are working at it. One thing that increases the difficulty for individuals is the fact that as time passes, the pace of changes in our world increases, and for all people, it completely outstrips their ability to keep up, so we get specialization. People who perform well within specialties we refer to as experts and the masses then rely on them for the work in their specialty. Sometimes such experts drift into other areas and affect matters beyond their expertise. This can create new problems when a “one size fits all” mentality prevails in the absence of any expertise in the matter.
Modern humanity has accumulated and recorded a vast amount of knowledge during these periods of accelerating change and development of new and improving capabilities. One area I have become obsessed with is the recognition of differences and uniqueness of individual characteristics that appear in each and every human. We have developed some expertise in analyzing DNA and this may be an important step in determining genetic causes and effects of why individuals view their relationships with others differently. We definitely have some distinctive views among individuals who group themselves in political endeavors to choose how they will be governed. Philosophy, religion, personal and community experience, and other factors have historically had effects on culture and the resulting political structure, but we seem to have arrived in a new age.
The modern affinity for computer-based gaming comes to mind here. I’m not really into this, but to all appearances, it is a big part of life for members of our latest generations. I think much of what goes into this gaming phenomenon is based on events in human interaction. I find real-life presenting more than I could ever imagine in a game.
The world has had some major breakpoints in history since the beginning of recording. One was the aforementioned death of Julius Caesar and the Roman Republic. Then we had the birth of Christ and a long period of the growth of Christianity. Islam emerged and has had significant effects, including the fall of the Byzantines. The Reformation gave a boost to the growth of Western Civilization and now we see modern forces competing for where we will go now. One constant across all of these changes has been the Jewish people and their religion.
For some reason, I have a sense that I’m supposed to try to understand all these things. I know I can’t and won’t, but my desire to try is not diminished. I guess if I did not believe and have faith there is something beyond the physical life we experience here on Earth, I might not have this compulsion. But there you are; we are still learning.Published in General
One thing I have learned in my 85 years here, is that human nature hasn’t changed. The peripherals change, but human nature doesn’t.
That’s true for what we can gather from the life on earth. What do we know about the nature of the soul or what appears to us perhaps as consciousness?
Thank you, Bob, for your thoughtful essay and for linking the one by VDH. I think the answer, sadly, is probably: “Yes.” There is another VDH essay at the site where he asks whether America has turned into Rome versus Byzantium, looking at the red vs blue states division. It’s from October 2021 and also worth reading.
I also appreciate you noting the constancy of the Jewish people as a thin, yet very strong, line through the roiling history. A group that deserves a lot more notice in the study of history, yet is generally absent in any formal coursework.
This division of people who seem to subscribe to how we have operated traditionally in America under our Constitutional Republican governing concept high on individual rights and our Anglo-Saxon free enterprise economic systems approach (the Red Right) versus the socialist/communist/ One World Government types (the Blue Left) is something I’m beginning to wonder how much of it is in the genes and how much is in how we teach during the formative periods or is experienced in their lives. How much in terms of the formative actions is affected by having lived the hard life where there are no options beyond individual production versus the kind of life people are able to live while growing up in a prosperous America.
It just seems like we have a population that does not have an understanding of what it takes to continue what we judge to be successful living.
Interesting post, Bob, and interesting article by VDH. He wrote at the beginning:
I don’t like most of this analogy. We’re not really outnumbered in a sea of enemies. We’re extremely secure behind two ocean moats, which we control, with no challenger in our hemisphere.
I agree with the part about avoiding military quagmires. The problem that I have with VDH’s argument is that, as I recall, he has supported our intervention in Afghanistan, supports our involvement in the Russo-Ukrainian War, and supports our ongoing involvement in places like Israel and Taiwan, which look like potential quagmires, to me.
I agree with the part about ensuring deterrence, but again, I think that VDH advocates deterrence essentially anywhere in the world, which I view as imperial overreach that will draw us into additional quagmires.
There’s always a question of where to draw the line. I think that the Monroe Doctrine drew the line in the right place, for us.
Perhaps his analogy is directed more at the destruction of our own culture as being like what happened to the Byzantines rather than comparing those specifics. They finally got to the point of not having enough resources to defend their continued existence.
What we read in the Bible, the Designer’s word.