Hail, Caesar!

They come, they wreak havoc, they die.

Caesar, the Tsar, the Kaiser–all variations on the same title. Each intending to assume total power and control over a major portion of the world. Unfortunately, we have learned little, so we face the same thing over and over. We do not learn from history, so we are doomed to repeat it. The titles may change, but little else.

One might have thought that modern humans would have learned after dealing with Hitler, Stalin, and Hirohito all at once. Alas, one generation may, indeed, learn. It may even attempt, and occasionally succeed, in teaching the next generation. To expect anything beyond that is folly.

Today, we again are faced with another slate of those who would be Caesar. Vladimir Putin is has unified his power in Russia and already “annexed” parts of Georgia and Ukraine. Xi Jinping has consolidated his power in China and is extending his reach throughout Asia, Africa, and even South America. Kim Jong Un has his little corner of the world, but would gladly, if given the chance, expand his territory.

And, as you know, there are others.

When leaders demand or expect loyalty to themselves, rather than to a higher cause, expect trouble. Unfortunately, the road is dependent on obtaining that which gets the individual into power, not that which is best for the common good.

The good news is that since the twentieth century, most empires arise and disappear within a relatively short time. The bad news is that during that time, great damage and havoc occur, harming millions, and taking many generations to correct.

 

Logic Is Hard

It is very easy to limit one’s views to those that one already believes. It is hard to entertain ideas that are in contrast to one’s own. It is an unfortunate–and uncomfortable–fact that all progress for humankind is obstructed by the status quo, but instead dependent upon the ability to entertain ideas that are radically different from one’s accepted notions.

If our preconceived notions were perfect, limiting our viewpoint would be fine. On the other hand we–as humans–are not capable of perfection, so our preconceived notions are, therefore, invariably flawed.

Unless we make an intentionally conscious effort to try to be open to other viewpoints, we remain stuck in one spot–intellectually, culturally, and spiritually.

Our self-imposed intellectual limitations are embarrassing. If an advanced alien species were to view our interaction, they would be well within their rights to either isolate us from the rest of the universe, destroy this planet, or at least remove the human infestation for the benefit of all.

I, Diogenes, died many centuries ago, so I am not at risk. How about you?

Respect for One’s Elders

Diogenes was known for his (alleged) dedication to honesty. It might have actually been hype, but it succeeded in putting him into the history books that survived until the 21st Century.

In certain cultures there is a respect for elders–for the knowledge and wisdom that they absorbed over their lifetime. After all, experience is the most expensive, yet most effective teacher, and one cannot experience much in twenty, thirty, or perhaps even forty years-even though we all believe that, before we are twenty, we have all the answers.

I watch people. I observe how they interact with one another–as families, as tribes/communities, or as part of structured organizations. I’ve seen the same things pass by at least twice; in some cases, more than twice. So, what wisdom have I distilled?

  • Seeing the same thing over and over is less than fulfilling. Have we learned nothing?
  • Each new boss/leader/commander/premier/grand imperial poobah begins with “Cast aside the old norms! Think outside the box! We’re going to embrace a new way  to be agile, more efficient, and more effective.” Words that are meant to stir the heart.
  • The new boss/leader/commander/premier/grand imperial poobah meets with the high level mucky-mucks (or whatever term you prefer) who applaud his or her every idea. He or she believes that the mucky-mucks will infuse the people on their teams with such enthusiasm.
  • Instead, mucky-mucks pull the wagons into a circle, dig in their heels, and knowing that the new boss/leader/commander/premier/grand imperial poobah will be gone in three to five years, they nod and tell him or her how wonderful the ideas are.
  • In a few years, the next contestant–I mean the next boss/leader/commander/premier/grand imperial poobah will appear and displace the current boss/leader/blah-blah-blah/etc.

And at each juncture, our hopes are dashed and we’re surprised that nothing changes.

I shudder when I realize that I will see the same things I’ve seen before at least one more time, or possibly more before I leave this world. Do/Will we ever learn? I suspect not.

When I was young, I believed that I–and my generation–would change the world. It was the Sixties, after all, and anything was possible. Now, I’m in my sixties, and I’ve resigned myself to things being the same way they were in the days of Ptolemy, Charlemagne, Robespierre, and–well, you fill in the blanks.

As always, it’s the Golden Rule–Them With the Gold–Rule.

It would be wonderful if Gen X, Gen Y, the Millenials, Gen Z, or whoever could actually make some changes before I leave this world for the next. I have always hoped to see this world better after me than it was before; I couldn’t do it, so I hope somebody else can.

I–and my contemporaries–are ready, willing, and able to share what we’ve learned, if anyone is interested.

Anyone? Anyone? Buehler? Buehler?