On Friday I wrote an article called The Bear Awakening. It was centered around what is going on with Russia and how will the next generation, that does not remember the USSR handle this? One of the comments raised a very good issue about moral decay within a society. While I don't think we have reached that critical mass yet, there is a lesson from history that we must look and take caution with.
The Greek Philosopher and Historian Thucydides wrote a book called, "The Peloponnesian War." In addition to being the writer of this book he is also considered to be the father of political thought within International Relations and the Realist Political School.
I am not going to go into all the gory details, but some background is needed to understand the context of what I am going to say. Many thanks to DR. Bowie PHD and LTC (Ret) for helping me understand this complex issue. Most of my ideas were shaped on this by one of his lectures.
Most of the Greek Classics (Illiad, Oddysey) as we were taught in school were based upon one thing. The idea that Greek Society was a liberal democratic based society where the good of the individual citizen was cherished above all. If you were a good farmer, took care of your family, helped the city state grow then you were prosperous. If you took off on adventures then life didn't go so well for you. Your boat sank, your crew got turned into pigs, and your wife cheated on you.
The Greeks had just thrown back the Persians into what we now call Asia Minor. This great victory solidified two distinct ways of doing business within Greece. There was the Athenian way, that spread out, establishing trade and colonies within the Delian League, and in many regards became very decadent in their hubris and greed. The other side of the coin was the Spartans, that continued to embrace the "traditional" Greek values of hard working small farms, and what we would call today a citizen soldier with their Peloponnesian League. These two sides were inevitably brought into a conflict that would become the Peloponnesian Wars, a war that would destroy everything they held dear.
The Athenians within this war and even before it, began to become more and more imperialistic. They gained more colonies, and when a colony or a neutral body would not go along with them, they brutally put them down. Usually murdering all of the men, and selling the women and children into slavery. This went counter to everything that they had written on and professed to be. Their very core values were truthfully falling apart. This culminated in the Melian Situation, where a neutral island argued that they should not be invaded since they were neutral and wanted to be friendly to both Athens and Sparta. The Athenian response was no, and they massacred them. This led to the school of thought that was embraced in detail years later by Machiavelli in his Realist Political Theory of Might makes Right.
But this is not really the lesson. The lesson was that the greed, and hubris for more power led to a decay within Athenian Society that led to their eventual downfall. The word mercenary was once a dirty word to the Greeks since soldiers fought for their land and what was right and just. Mercenaries only fought for money. But during the war, Athens hired more and more mercenaries to defend them and to carry out their most brutal attacks. In truth the once proud streets of Athens, the streets seen within antiquity as the birthplace of democracy, became home to beggars, prostitutes, mercenaries, and other dens of decrepit behavior.
Is their a parallel from Athens to America.....no....not yet. But do I believe that this lesson from history should be remembered by all Americans always....yes. It is not enough to say, I'm an American, I'm a citizen of America. You must earn that, you must help your country, and serve your country. To quote JFK, "Do not ask what your country can do for you, but rather what can you do for your country."
If we ever forget who we are, and what we stand for, then yes we are lost. But we are not there yet. We must always remember that we stand for truth and justice, that we stand for all the oppressed people that have no voice, that we bring compassion and care to the sick and dying, and to the oppressor, we are a mighty sword that will enact vengeance upon them for their transgressions upon the weak.
Are we Athens....no....We are America....and we will not repeat their mistake.
God Bless America
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