Putting Rome into Perspective
Of course Rome is different. Ancient Roman structures still stand all over the city. There’s the Forum, the Coliseum, the Pantheon, massive fountains, and great piazzas. We don’t really have anything like that in our little town in Arizona (Clarkdale) unless you count Tuzigoot, which is impressive, but not Rome-impressive.
It has been more than 2,500 years since Rome became a republic. It was one of the greatest empires in the history of the planet. 2,500 years! That’s one heck of a long time ago and yet, buildings and bits remain standing to this day. I don’t foresee our modern stick and drywall structures impressing anyone a century from now let alone a millennium or two.
As you all know by now, I’m not very much of a history buff. If I’m given too many dates, funky multi-syllabic names with too few vowels, who-begat-whoms, or who-slew-whoms, my eyes roll to the back of my head and my memory function ceases to record anything. Thankfully for me, we have Google and Youtube these days so I can brush up on relevant facts.
We found “Rome: The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire” on Youtube and watched the first couple of episodes. Many battles were waged where soldiers fell by the thousands in bloody, hand-to-hand combat. The men wore state-of-the-art — at the time — armor and helmets, and wielded finely crafted swords to pierce the armor. The lives, resources, and money spent on the wars were massive. Imagine if all of that energy went into constructive efforts rather than destructive efforts. How much better would things have been? You would think we would have learned that lesson by now…
Same as It Ever Was
I Googled a few pages on Roman politics. Apparently, you didn’t have to be the best or brightest, nor even really be capable, for appointment to a high political position. If you were from a family of influence, you were qualified. If you had money, you were qualified. If you had leverage on those who made the appointments, you were qualified. Corruption was alive and well back then. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
As time went on, the masses became restless because of the continuous wars, having their sons and husbands sent into the meat grinder, and watching the politically connected give themselves, and those near them, even more advantage over everyone else. Something had to be done to prevent civil unrest. The Coliseum was built to entertain the masses with sporting events and re-enactments. The people loved it. It took their minds off of their worries. Diversion is not a new tactic.
I sit here and write this and cannot help but feel I’m watching the same movie now as they were back then. Yelling at the screen isn’t going to change the ending. Attempting to enter the projection room is certain death. The goings-on over 2,000 years ago sound no different than the present to me. Nothing has changed. It must be in mankind’s blood. Why should I think things might change in my lifetime or even in the next 2,000 years?
The Silver Lining
What keeps me going are the ‘people,’ those of little- to no- influence, those of modest means, people like us. Wherever we go, the ‘people’ treat us as individuals. They don’t care about the politics of the country on our passports. Are you kind? Are you respectful? Are you honest? That’s what we all care about. There is a rapport there. It’s almost like a secret club where you always have a friend and a place to be if you need it. There are more of the ‘people’ than there are of the powerful. I know which I trust and of which I must be wary.
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