Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rome in America. (Part III)

I am continually fascinated by Roman history, particularly the exceptionally tumultuous period when the Republic was usurped by Imperial rule. I can't help but wonder if this specific period has the potential to be echoed in our contemporary American experience.

Specifically, I am interested in the decline of virtue and its impact on society. The period right before and during Caesar's rise, reign, and assassination saw an increased abandonment of the core principles, values, and responsibilities that girded the Roman Republic. The following is an apt description of the times.

"As soon as riches came to be held in honor, when glory, dominion, and power followed in their train, virtue began to lose its luster, poverty to be considered a disgrace, blamelessness to be termed malevolence. Therefore...riches, luxury, and greed, united with insolence, took possession of our young manhood. They pillaged, squandered; set little value on their own, coveted the goods of others; they disregarded modesty, chastity, everything human and divine; in short they were utterly thoughtless and reckless."

Now you can understand why people like Cato were so ticked. But doesn't that also sound like today in America? Causes, unity, and respect have given away to TMZ, boorishness, selfishness, self indulgence, and laziness. We've gone from the "Greatest Generation" to "Generation X" in less than 40 years. I don't want to be the bum who says that the sky is falling but I can't help but look at the above quote and think it does such a good job of encapsulating one of the big causes to the fall of one Republic and the weakening of another modern one.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Driving Possibility

"He looked at the granite. To be cut, he thought, and made into walls. He looked at a tree. To be split and made into rafters. He looked at a streak of rust on the stone and thought of iron ore under the ground. To be melted and to emerge as girders against the sky.
These rocks he thought, are here for me; waiting for the drill, the dynamite and my voice; waiting to be split, ripped, pounded, reborn; waiting for the shape my hands will give them."

I often reflect on these thoughts shared by Howard Roark in the "Fountainhead". To me they speak to the incredible creative powers that are to be discovered in each of us. It is an incredible high to be able to tap into that vein and create something truly unique and of value. It is an incredible low to discover that you have wasted your time by not mining out those creative forces that lay dormant in each of us.

3/23/17- A fitting end in Venice

That'll cost you 100 Euros I guess it makes sense to spend the last chapter of our Italian journey in the town most commonly associ...