The fall of the Republic

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Augustus of Prima Porta, statue of the emperor...

Augustus of Prima Porta, statue of the emperor Augustus in Museo Chiaramonti, Vatican, Rome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a history subject with a contemporary significance, because every one of us is living under a political system.

We can read in history books about official stages in Roman civilization: Monarchy, republic and empire. From these three stages, republic usually is seen as the best; a wonderful moment in world history. Even George Lucas, famous creator of Star Wars series, to set his story, was inspired in fall of Roman Republic and the rise of Empire. If you have ever seen the films, knows that republic is linked to light and goodness, while Empire is linked to dark and evil.

If we agree with this version, Emperor Augustus would have to be seen as an evil and dark emperor, and with help of some “Darth Vader” would have hunted republicans (Jedi?) of his time and established a reign of terror.  Under this perspective, contributions like Pax Romana (Roman peace), world citizenship or development of arts and literature in Roman world, must be considered evil.

Was Republic a government of light?

In fact was really far from it. Roman republic was not a democracy, was an aristocracy. Only a selected class was allowed to govern, which fiercely protect their privileges and attacked without mercy any kind of reformer, like Gracchi brothers, Gaius Marius or Julius Caesar. Roman Republic had a legal and political system which makes sense in a small state-city but not in a worldwide empire. What kind of privileges they protected? Usury, extortion and embezzlement were few. They were glad to be appointed governors to have the possibility to use Roman army to increase their own fortune.

So-called "Marius". Marble, Roman ar...

So-called “Marius”. Marble, Roman artwork of the 1st century BC, restored by Alexander Trippel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Republic fell because was already dead. Spirit was gone and corpse was only useful to feed grubs and worms. Any political system is good by itself, always depends on moral quality of those who belong it. Whether it monarchy, republic or empire; the system only works if king, president, prime minister or emperor, as well as entire political class have a high moral quality.

Only education based on values and experience of virtues as a long-term project could ensure successful governments.

Is this possible?

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About paradigms and beliefs

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English: Albert Einstein Français : portrait d...

English: Albert Einstein Français : portrait d’Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We can say that a paradigm is in general meanings, a thought pattern; a reality perception which give us our own understanding about surrounding world. One single person should have his own paradigms but also, a company, a culture or a specific historical period have their own paradigms.

If we could take three people from different historical period: A citizen from Roman Empire, a knight from medieval Europe and a man from our own time; if all of them see a light in the sky, how they would explain it?

Roman citizen probably would say he is seeing a god’s chariot; medieval knight would say that is an angel and man from our own time would try to explain it with an airplane or a satellite. In fact none of them knows what it is, because what they are seeing is a light in the sky, but each of them looks behind the glasses of their own paradigm.

We could say the same about different disciplines. If we ask the question: What is the world? A biologist might say that world is a big organisms system; an engineer would explain it like a set of structures and forces and a musician, perhaps like a set of elements looking up for a single melody.

Bridge / 橋(はし)

Bridge / 橋(はし) (Photo credit: TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋))

Therefore paradigms are similar to what we call beliefs and every single person, every culture and every historical period has a belief system through which they have a reality version.

With this perspective, is science a belief system?

According to paradigms of our own society, we could make a quick answer: NO; we could argue that scientific method assures objective conclusions, completely close to reality. But, how objectives are perceptions of our senses? Science itself tells us that when we use our sense of touch, in fact this perception comes from NOTHING.

Atoms that make our hands (and all our body) have an electromagnetic charge which repels electromagnetic charge from atoms which makes surface that supposed we touch; so really when we touch, we touch EMPTY SPACE.

Why we feel that we touch? Our senses send information to our brain that decodes like a sensation. So when we touch, smell, see, hear and tasted, is only an interpretation from our brain about reality, and that’s why is impossible for us to be completely objective with reality. We can never reach reality because it is conditioned to brain, and brain it is conditioned to our own paradigms.

In history we always see that what a scientific truth was in one generation, it is denied in next generation with a different paradigm.

I don’t deny contributions  science has made to our life (in that case nobody would be reading this now) in the same way I don’t deny contributions from religions or from different ways of thinking; I just want to make a point: Nobody can say that has the only true. Thanks to Einstein, by the way, we know that most of things are relative.

I believe in self-reflexion. I believe in carefully review of our paradigms or belief system, to make sure that still are useful in our life.

As Socrates said: “I only know that I know nothing”

To death

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Armour IMG_5690

Armour IMG_5690 (Photo credit: OZinOH)

Since a couple of months, word “Death” is coming often to my mind.

Not death of my body, I mean death like a change, like a reborn. Every time we overcome a hard test; every time we change a paradigm, a way of thinking, we die and reborn.

This is a poem I wrote many years ago. In the beginning I wrote it in Spanish, so be gentle, but I will appreciate any suggestion.

 

I am a warrior, I born to die

I am sharpening my sword and preparing my armor

The battle is near.

I breathe strongly, could be my last day in this campaign.

Death! Every day of my life, you are with me.

Autumn is finishing. Darkness and cold of winter makes your presence more than evident.

Wind brings to my ears, shouts of thousands of fearful mouths:

…Death, who are you? Where are you coming? Why you want to reach me?

 Death! Never comes for me!…

Such words will never cross the fence of my teeth!

Common words I know, but perhaps, am I a common human being?

I hear my call, history claims for me!

Death! To a common human being you are the end; to a warrior you are the beginning, the beginning of glory and immortality

Death! I do not fear you! I call you!

You are my friend, my ally, you are inside of me.

In middle of battle I face terrible enemies; enemies who want to catch me, chain me, enemies who says are messengers in your name.

I am your messenger!

I wield my sword and the shining blade makes chains and shackles a thousand of pieces, bringing your message to the enemy.

You are not a limitation, you release us! You are the door where we can reach from the battlefield, our true home in summer stars region.

Stars, and the glow over the Halemaumau crater...

Stars, and the glow over the Halemaumau crater of the Kilauea volcano on Big Island, Hawaii (Photo credit: LoveBigIsland)

Death! Let my name and actions burns strongly inside heart and mind of every man. Let me be the spark that lights inspiration flame in future generations.

Until fate leads you to my door, I wait with my head high, watchful eyes and my sword ready to battle; I wait for you like what I am, like a warrior!

I am a warrior, and I born to die.

The Wizard

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gandalf

gandalf (Photo credit: williamcromar)

I’m not talking about classical wizard.

I’m not talking about an old man with long beards, making weird potions inside a tower.  Neither a modern wizard like Harry Potter; using a magic wand, shooting spells and curses and transforming toes in cats. Wizard I’m talking about has characteristics complete different; magic he uses has nothing to do with wands, spells or cauldrons.

Let’s take two great wizards with the powers I want to talk about: Gandalf from Tolkien’s universe and Merlin from King Arthur’s legends.

Gandalf is a messenger sent by the Valar (the gods in Tolkien’s universe). His mission is to help middle earth inhabitants in their fight against darkness (Sauron).  He has a great power to call and unite different races; giving them courage he turns Sauron’s 3rd age into man’s race 4th age.

Merlin or Myrddyn Emrys in wales, where Merlin legends has begun, also has a great mission.  After Roman Empire left Britain, to defend Ynys Prydein (Britain) against barbarian invasions, he turns Roman Britain into one unified country: England. Riding from one kingdom to another he created right conditions to allow the born of a miracle called Arthur.

Both possess a great vision and talk to men’s heart, making a mark inside them.  They make born new worlds, transforming their environments in a better place.

I have the sensation of being witness of born of a new world, every time I hear the song “Men of Harlech” performed by Charlotte Church. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0mFAVr9Uf8&list=FLgtd_A0JTjHzycOv8cmrdIA&index=44&feature=plpp_video When she starts to sing in Gaelic language, is like the soul of a nation, calling from darkness and silence to men with the will to produce it; then chorus sings in English like a reply, presenting themselves to the battle field, to create this new world.

Even in organizational psychology, archetypes of Warrior, King and Wizard are known. In a company, King’s Archetype gives plans and directions, Warrior’s archetype executes the plan, and when a problem comes, Wizard fixes problems, and adapts plan to new reality.

The wizard has existed throughout history. We can always find this special class of women and men who transform their environment:  Socrates, Scipio Africanus, Catherine the Great, Gandhi, Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie, Nelson Mandela and many others.

Carte de visite photograph of Florence Nightin...

Carte de visite photograph of Florence Nightingale, by Kilburn, circa 1854. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How can we be wizards?

We have to change ourselves. We need to change our paradigms, our words, our actions.

In 416 B.C. during Peloponnesian War, Syracuse in Sicily was attacked by Athens and their allies; in consequence Sicilians asked for help to Sparta. Spartans didn´t send an army, they sent a single man: Gylippus. He organized and encouraged Syracuse people in a way that Athens was defeated. Since very beginning they were able to win. Gylippus just changed their paradigms, their way of thinking.

We need to become seed man, and like Gylippus be able to turn afraid men to heroes.  We need the ability to awake the best inside every person, creating a new environment.

We need the Wizard.

About Leadership

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English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gaute...

English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gauteng, on 13 May 1998 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For most of people Leader means head of a group. An organization head or perhaps, just a team head.  Also, when we hear the word leader, usually we think in titles like President, manager, boss, coordinator; or in military terms could be a General, commander, captain, etc.

History tells us that in fact, titles don’t make leaders.

Coming back to Roman Republic days, we can find battles like Cannae or Arausio; names that meant shame and death for Romans in those days. Biggest Roman defeats in all Rome history, produced by inept Generals, with a 155.000 casualties cost.

Nowadays we have presidents, ministers, and managers, in business or politics where in most of cases they were not only unsuitable, but also corrupt.

Then it’s not about titles. So, what does it mean leadership?

I think is not only the head of a group. If we see ourselves, consciously we use our heads to think and make decisions; after this process what we have to do is take actions, not to think.  So leader is not only head, also heart and will of a team.

Leader thinks and make decisions, has knowledge and vision about where they have to go, but also is their heart. Encourages and inspires his team; light up fire of enthusiasm in their hearts, making them vibrate.

Besides, leader is will in a team. Is the power that integrates each team member, so together achieve what is impossible for others.

To do that, a real leader needs to have a clear mind, learn to know and hear his own heart and conquer will inside him.

Like Alexander the Great cutting the Gordian knot or King Arthur, removing Excalibur from stone. As Leonidas, defeating death at Thermopylae; or like Giordano Bruno giving his life to philosophy.

Giordano Bruno

Giordano Bruno (Photo credit: kajojak)

Every one of us, with our small victories like stairs, is walking to conquer the great victory over ourselves.

To finish, I want to share a fragment from Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire, about what a real king (in this case leader) is:

“I will tell His Majesty what a king is. A king does not abide within his tent while his men bleed and die upon the field. A king does not dine while his men go hungry, nor sleep when they stand at watch upon the wall. A king does not command his men’s loyalty through fear nor purchase it with gold; he earns their love by the sweat of his own back and the pains he endures for their sake. That which comprises the harshest burden, a king lifts first and sets down last. A king does not require service of those he leads but provides it to them. He serves them, not they him.”

Chopin and raindrop

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Painting I commissioned and of which I own the...

Painting I commissioned and of which I own the only copy based on the circa 1837 preliminary sketch of Eugene Delacroix’s joint portrait of Frédéric Chopin and George Sand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During winter of 1838, Aurore Dupin, Baroness Dudevant to French nobility, but better known as George Sand, with her children and Frederick Chopin, arrived on the isle of Mallorca looking for a better climate for Chopin’s fragile health.

In a letter to Julian Fontana, Chopin wrote:

“Here, the sun shines all day long and people wear summer clothes; the temperature is hot, and during night, I can hear guitars and singing voices for hours. Here I am in Palma, between palm trees, cedars, cacti, olives, aloe, lemon trees, orange trees, fig trees…  Large balconies and trellises… Arab architecture… next to these beauties I feel better…”

Valldemosa

Valldemosa (Photo credit: anieto2k)

But everything changed. Sun and heat was very soon replaced by rain and moisture, and they had to move to a rented antique monastery, Cartuja de Valldemosa. At a very rainy day, Chopin had to stay, very sick, while Aurore had to go looking for food being outside all day long. Alone and delirious, he felt every single raindrop hitting roof slates. Although started as a painful experience, in one moment, in the middle of dreams, he starts to compose.

When Aurore came back, she found Chopin at piano, in the middle of delusions. She recalls:

“When he recovered and saw our looking, he felt bad about dangers we have passed. Immediately he confessed that when we were out, he had calmed and like in dreams, he was playing the piano, convinced he was dead. He saw himself floating in a lake; raindrops, heavier and moist, were falling slowly on his chest…”

From this terrible experience, Chopin gave birth to a beautiful masterpiece, Raindrop Prelude, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_6APTb3RNQ, allowing us to feel a painful and continuous hit by raindrop.

If we take this page from Chopin’s biography, we can only think how, a person who is suffering can turn his pain in something beautiful.

When we are depressed or our heart is broken, what do we do with our pain?

Don’t you think would be wonderful if rather than being a problem, we could turn our suffering to something beautiful to offer?

How could be the world if people learn how to take bad thoughts, destructive emotions, jealousy, envy, bigotry and turn all this in beautiful feelings?, something to be proud to left for future generations.

Can you imagine?

The lightsword

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a blue lightsaber

a blue lightsaber (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“…I believe in lightsword, not on the steel blade that cuts, even in sword of fire that burns, only in lightsword that illuminates. This is the weapon we should use in battles for peace…”

 

Salarrué (writer from El Salvador)

 

What is a lightsword?

 

A sword is a weapon, but a weapon which represents warrior’s soul. Also, in King Arthur’s myth, the sword symbolizes the will which penetrate and shape a rock, image of matter, making a mark on history.

 

Light is what allowing us to see.  It’s knowledge about life, specially our own life. We don’t own light. Light comes out of our world and illuminates our days, allowing us to know ourselves. We can’t create light but we can receive and reflect it; so if we receive light and we use it with our will, we can have a lightsword.

 

If we use a lightsword, what we fight? We fight against darkness; darkness of pettiness and jealousy; darkness of intolerance and violence. We fight against all expressions of ignorance. What is the worst form of ignorance? Not knowing that we are ignorant. To think that we know all what we need to know, especially about ourselves.

 

If we don’t ask more questions, if a day goes without being surprised, if we are seeing life in grey, without any color, perhaps we are thinking we know enough.

 

With a lightsword, we can launch our life to a no-return journey. We will see not what divide us from everyone else, but what unite us with them; to grow all together in a new vision, a new human being.

 

Do you want a lightsword?

 

Hadrian’s Wall and Carl Gustav Jung

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The Line Of Light

The Line Of Light (Photo credit: Stuart Herbert)

About the symbolism of Hadrian’s Wall in human being: “Last frontier between civilization and barbarism”

If we start from the point that we are good people and our life makes sense, we still have our dark moments.

Since we were children, all our education was focus in show us what is good and what is bad. It doesn’t matter in which culture we were born, all religions and moral traditions mainly teach about good and evil.

When we grow up (at least biologically) our parents and especially our society, expects from us that we have assimilated those paradigms, which for many years they taught us; so without any thought we could say: “This is good and this is bad”

But we have all experienced bad thoughts and bad emotions. Even a very religious person ever thought:  “God! illuminates this guy or eliminate him”, is very human.  In this moment, these paradigms stop this man to kill someone. These paradigms are his Hadrian’s Wall, which stops his barbarian thoughts and emotions.

Otherwise, history teaches us that Hadrian’s Wall was never safe by itself, and at one point was overtaken by barbarians. Could this happen to our paradigms/wall in some moment?

I think could happen. Everybody has ever heard about respectable people, who committed crimes; small crimes or big crimes. Could be simple thieves or could be serial murderers.

Old romans would say: Turn your enemies in allies. Incorporate them into Empire.

Carl Gustav Jung said that this barbarian emotions and thoughts are our shadow.  This is not about evil; this is about lack of light, light as conscious, as knowledge about us. If we do not fear this barbarians inside us and confront them, perhaps we will accept them as an integral part of every human being and rule them.

This means a journey full of danger in places unknown to us, where only inhabit the forces of nature, our nature. A terrifying journey; as be inside of an erupting volcano, or dive alone into the depths of the ocean.

Wave Blasting Against Rock During Sunrise at Beach

Wave Blasting Against Rock During Sunrise at Beach (Photo credit: Captain Kimo)

What can we achieve?

What Jung called “the individual”; an integral person with a fulfilling life, or in a few words:  a truly happy person.

Is it worth?

How many universes can exist?

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Image

Although we don’t think about it, there is not a single universe. Every one of us has unique experiences; particular thoughts which make us perceive a different piece of reality. There are many universes as people, so our own life becomes our private universe.

But the problem is that we usually don’t distinguish others universes, we see only our own. That’s why we think in people who are right and people who are wrong, where perhaps are only universes that fit with ours and those who don’t.

What happens when someone just take a way of thinking of another person without consideration, without meditating, without make to suit with his own reality? with his own universe? This person denies the laws of his own universe, starts a process of death that leaves this person in a chaos state, in nothingness, until another universe is born.

How can universes born?

We make them birth. We call them to life. With our thoughts and feelings; our words and actions. Even if we are conscious of this or not, we produce the universe we have. Where we live, the job that we have, people in our life, love or hate, happiness or sadness, all is being created by ourselves.

Can anyone live without universe?

Hadrian’s Wall or what keep us from being barbarians

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In this first post, I want to talk about the meaning of the main picture in this website: Hadrian’s Wall.

Around 122 A.C Hadrian, Emperor of Rome, ordered the construction of a wall in northern Britain. Its purpose was to defend Roman territory against barbarians from the north. It was the last frontier in the west end of empire. The dividing line between civilization and barbarism.

Why northern inhabitants from Britain were considered barbarians?

It cannot be for lack of culture. Scottish and Irish had a very deep culture. When Julius Caesar arrived to Britain, he found an ancient religion, common to all Celtic tribes and similarities with Greco-Roman religion.

Neither can be their attacks on southern Britain. Romans themselves were extremely warlike, as we can see in “The Gallic Wars” by Julius Caesar. At that time much of the culture was about war and warriors.

Perhaps was lack of technology. But if we admit that, we would be saying that who has better and more advanced weapons is civilized. Then atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as bacteriological war would be civilized actions.

In this case, we still have the choice to find the answer in the very word “civilization”.

The word “civilization” comes from Latin word “civitas”. Cicero tells us that “civitas” is the body of total set of citizens, with their rights and obligations. If we look at life of great romans as Scipio, Marius or Julius Caesar, they gave high importance to this idea of civitas whereas in many cases risked their lives to defend it.  From an abstract point of view, civitas is the link that integrates a man (citizen) with an ideal (Rome), which is bigger than person itself, which transcends time.

Therefore, barbarians had this title because they didn’t have a unifying ideal that transcend themselves and give them a sense of life beyond everyday, to provide the opportunity to make their mark in history.

So, perhaps we must ask ourselves: Do we have an ideal that transcends us and gives meaning to our life?

Are we barbarians or civilized people?