Today is Friday, the 13th. It is also the results of elections here in the UK, where I have lived for, ironically enough, thirteen years. Many people are making connections between the two. At @HomeCrazzyHome, we have joked for weeks about it being the beginning of the apocalypse.
But today has greater significance for us than superstition or election results. It is the beginning of a new way of life for our family. Today, my partner Alan Cox retires. Well, technically, he has to go back on the 31st for a day. So, I am calling this semi-retirement. And 2020 will be hugely significant with his official retirement and our wedding. Who knows what else might happen?
It is the juxtaposition of those two events which is the topic of today’s blog.
Life goes on…
There have been thousands of leaders, rulers, kings, queens, presidents, dictators, etc. over the five thousand years written history of mankind. Some of them good, some of them bad. A few of them truly monstrous. Atrocities untold have befallen whole groups and individuals. War and famine.
Yet, against all that, there has always been the individual.
If you examine philosophy, much of it comes down simply to the struggle between society/government and the individual.
“The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.”
“There is in every one of us, even those who seem to be most moderate, a type of desire that is terrible, wild, and lawless.”
“Money-makers are tiresome company, as they have no standard but cash value.”
“Excess of liberty, whether it lies in state or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery.”
“Wealth is the parent of luxury and indolence, and poverty of meanness and viciousness, and both of discontent.”
“And then, at this stage, every dictator comes up with the notorious and typical demand: he asks the people for bodyguards to protect him, the people’s champion.”
“Do you mean that the tyrant will dare to use violence against the people who fathered him, and raise his hand against them if they oppose him? So the tyrant is a parricide, and little comfort to his old parent.”
“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance”
“Those who govern ought not to be lovers of the task? For, if they are, there will be rival lovers, and they will fight.”
“I say that justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger.”
No, those are not from campaign speeches or political commentary. They are quotes from Plato’s Republic, a book written almost two-thousand-five-hundred years ago. And still true to this day.
When you stop to think about it that is incredibly sad – that we as humanity are still struggling the same questions that philosophers attempted to answer two and a half millennia ago.
Nothing has changed. Plato predicted that as well:
“The society we have described can never grow into a reality or see the light of day, and there will be no end to the troubles of states, or indeed… of humanity itself, till philosophers become rulers in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.”
Yet, now has never been a more critical time for that change. Our planet herself that has sustained us for hundreds of thousands and millions of years is being destroyed. By us, our greed. The very things that Plato warned us of, so long ago.
This may seem an odd dichotomy but I have been reading a sci-fi alien romance series by Harmony Raines called Chosen by the Karal. It is completely cheesy romance at its worst. About as far from Plato’s Republic as you get. And oddly enough, an accurate portrayal of those very struggles – in our own race that has destroyed the earth and an alien culture that had adopted and adapted to many of the ideals of Socrates. Both need one another to survive. No more spoilers than that.
But the danger now and in that fictional future, as it has always been, is that we, the individuals, abdicate our responsibility to society. That rather than doing our part, individually and collectively, we expect the government, leaders, charities, and even corporations to do it for us. That it is always someone else’s fault.
I see that in today’s headlines. But I refuse to buy the snake oil they are selling. Yes, it is not right, fair, just, or whatever term you choose for the likes of Trump and Johnson to govern. But we, humanity, have survived worse. And we did that through the power of the individual and small groups of them forming communities.
The Underground Railroad – people who risked all to hide escaped slaves.
Oskar Schindler and thousands of other individuals like him who hid Jews during the Holocaust.
And true Southern Magnolias like my Nanny and Miss Ethel who fed their families during the Great Depression by pooling what little they had to make a ‘stone soup’ of sorts.
We have survived all that and more. Do you realize that there are hundreds of thousands of years of human history beyond that written record? That for at least twice as long as that we lived and worked together in small egalitarian communities. And yes, we will survive Boris and the Donald…at least for the hundred or so more years that Raines writes of in her books.
But we can do better than that. Despite the headlines, we each as individuals have choices. Sometimes big ones, like how we govern ourselves. And other times, small ones like – do I really need that new coat? Should I just drop that plastic wrapper or isn’t it MY responsibility to put it in the bin or is there an alternative to that plastic-wrapped item? Do I drive my car? Take a train or bus? Or walk? And more than I can type here. But we know what they are, we all do.
And that brings me back to that juxtaposition. The upheaval at the national level and the new dawn at the personal one. Our ‘retirement.’ This new phase of our lives, family, and @HomeCrazzyHome.
“I’m afraid that it might actually be sacrilegious to stand idly by while morality is being denigrated and not try to assist as long as one has breath in one’s body and a voice to protest with.”
Those, too, are words from the Republic. And, so, today, Friday the 13th of December, 2019, on the cusp of new decade and fresh start for us, I am going to speak with my life partner, begin to plan the ways that we, as individuals, a family, and leaders in our small community have the responsibility to make a difference.
To do our part, whatever that is. Not because we want or need to be recognized. Or to earn the blessing or salvation of some ‘god’ (or goddess). But because it is the right thing to do. The just thing. And our responsibility as citizens of this community and the world.
I challenge each of you to begin that process of self-reflection. Not to get caught up in the frenzy of nah-sayers, doom-and-gloom, and fearmongers, but to begin with The Man in the Mirror (person).
Oh, and I thought I’d share another of my passions with you as well.
These are un-retouched photos of this morning, Friday the 13th, over Swansea, Wales. Yes, there are clouds. There may even be rain later. But the sun is peaking through the clouds. It is always there. Even when it is pissing down with rain, the sun is constant. Just hidden.
I am that sun. Alan is that sun. As is my beloved PanKwake. Our @HomeCrazzyHome. But so too can you be. You can be the brightness that overcomes the darkness in someone’s life…and this world. If you make that change.
What is your part?
When we, you and I, each do our parts, beginning with self-reflection and followed by action, well, Plato addressed that one too:
“Unless, said I, either philosophers become kings in our states or those whom we now call our kings and rulers take to the pursuit of philosophy seriously and adequately, and there is a conjunction of these two things, political power and philosophic intellgence, while the motley horde of the natures who at present pursue either apart from the other are compulsory excluded, there can be no cessation of troubles, dear Glaucon, for our states, nor, I fancy, for the human race either.
As I finish this blog, the sun has come out so brightly that it is not possible to capture it with my camera. That fills me with hope. Hope that enough of us will take up this new challenge to light the world. Goddess bless us all, each and every one.