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February 5, 2018 at 12:42 pm #2765
Today my friends marks the 2385th anniversary of the Founding of the Temple of Concordia, and as such a holiday to recall and honor the virtues of Concordia, harmony. What is this harmony, that was so important that the Ancients revered her as a Goddess, and built her not only one, but many temples?
Today, I assume more that for a long time, we in our Western countries especially, suffer from a most severe loss of the Concord, the social togetherness and harmony. And we know from history that time and again when the harmony of groups and factions was lost, it bode ill for the people and the countries altogether, so it seems prudent to remind ourselves of the value of this civic virtue.
We all have our goals and dreams, and we all face our own issues and crises, both as individuals and part of the groups we belong – or sometimes just the group we are seen as, by others. So of course, who could doubt that pursuing your dreams and goals would be a bad thing? That is what we tell our children, what we teach and cherish: seek out to manifest your dreams, manifest your goals in life. And sometimes, there seem to be walls preventing us, and from there it comes all too easy to get angry at someone else, putting the blame on others. It becomes tempting to find the goal less in working for your own dream, but it seems easier to fight against someone else you believe is hindering you. And from there, all the path goes down to break the Concordia, the social harmony, for at some point when you are fixated on your wishes, we are all at the risk to forget the Common Good, we put ourselves so much above others, that we only think of the interest of our own group. It is tribalism that arises, and tribalism is what ultimately destroys nations and civilizations. And when the anger and greed of the factions destroys civilizations, in the end, nobody will gain and everyone will lose.
Concordia is broken so often out of entitlement, the seemingly righteous anger people feel, when they simply do no longer know when to stop. Or in an old saying, they don’t know when to stop winning.
All societies have different groups, factions and different sort of people. First, because not all people are the same, both in natural given skills and in how hard they are willing to work, but also because in no society everyone can get the same. Fate puts some people in one place and others in another. It is what has been taught by the Sages of millennia: work hard to improve, but be able to bear your fate with dignity. It is that prudent corridor of freedom given to us, that like Ulysses through wisdom and intelligence we can overcome obstacles, even those seemingly relentless, but like the tales Icarus and Phaeton show: hubris comes before the fall. We must know our limits. Lao Tsu said: overstretch the bow and you will wish to have halted, sharpen the blade too much, and you will wish not to have done that.
Change is part of life, individually and as a society. But change must develop as natural growth. You may want the branches of a tree to grow faster, being impatient, but pulling the branches will only break the tree. That is what avoiding hubris means: accept the natural limitations, accept change only manifests as natural growth, not by forcing the issue violently and in overthrowing everything you destroy what you seek to change. It has been so with many people in history. People like Gaius Marcius or Julius Caesar were both men of great skill, and both saw the flaws of the society of their time, but by being arrogant and knowing no limits, they doomed themselves and their efforts. And so it was with Gaius and Tiberius Gracchus, who rightfully saw the suffering of the lower class, but in their zeal and hubris, their effort was destined to fail, for they knew neither compromise nor moderation.
The virtues taught by our Lord Apollo, whom I have the honor to serve as Sacerdos, are written down in the 147 Delphic Maxims, and I can only advise you to study them, for in them lies a lot of wisdom of moderation, of harmony. The two most famous we all know: Know thyself and All in Moderation.
Know Thyself means, seek the answers in yourself first. If you want to improve the world, improve yourself first, work on yourself. Many Delphic Maxims highlight this, and it has been what all the Sages of the past taught, like Confucius: if you want to order the nation, order the villages first. If you want to order the villages, order the families first. If you want to order the families, order yourselves first. But it also means: know your place, make peace with the cards destiny has dealt you. In Rome ever so often the Patricians or the Plebeians knew no limits, broke the Concordia of Rome, and then the Patricians kept the Plebeians down, or the Plebeians became rebellious and destructive. Concordia does not demand you forfeit your interests, but it asks you to moderate yourself. In the end, we all need to find a compromise, under which we all can still live together. If you do not know when to stop, misguided by anger and entitlement, you may, like Phyrrus, win a battle but lose the war. You may destroy in destroying Concordia, the harmony of the nation, ruin that what you seek. That is the lesson history has shown us time and again.
So let us pray today to Concordia and all the Dei Consentes for Harmony, that the spirit of Harmony might grow in all of us and all around us, to understand again that civilization prospers if we all aim for the Common Good of our nations and our civilization above the factional desires. Let us at this day remember the virtues of moderation and harmony, to abstain from the rebellious and greedy spirit of tribalism and factionalism, that we strife again to live under virtuous ideas and to focus again on the blessing of Concordia.
You can also hear me hold the speech:
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