December 23, 2020 at 6:26 am #40622
I have started to write a small series of articles examining the practical implications of the Roman virtues. This is the first part of this series, your comments are desired and welcomed.
We are all born into a docile mindset, unintentionally slavish, and inherently antihuman. This process started generations ago, exacerbated by the industrial revolution, yet well in place for millennia beforehand. We have removed the average man and woman for generations from a place of power in the communities, their religion, and within their families. With every passing generation, there is increasing powerlessness in general, with the insidiously growing impotence of culture, spirituality, and virtue.
Without knowing it, we are born into a system that systematically destroys good fathers, mothers, thinkers, philosophers, artists, leaders, and warriors. This leaves us devoid of the great men and women of old who were written about fondly for millennia. Within this meat-grinder of potential, those who could be great are slowly transformed from a mindset of freedom and independent virtue towards the mindset of servile slaves. Weak, dependent, and without honor – a life devoid of honor cannot be a life happily lived.
We cannot blame our immediate ancestors, our mothers, our fathers, grandparents, and so on. The popular system today that crushes the potential of men and women was put into motion generations ago. Our parents only knew the modern realities, they lost generations ago the value of the Roman virtues, perspective, and worldview. These lost fundamental qualities provided much strength, confidence, innovation, and power. Everything we built today in the Western world was built upon the foundation of this Roman reality which has drifted from its most preeminent form 1800 years ago. It continues to drift precariously close to the waves crashing on the rocks today…
Our parents didn’t understand the disconnect they felt or experienced. The popular modern world, with its distorted values, was all they knew. It was all their parents, parents knew. Only until recently was there anyone to talk to about this discordance between personal societal needs and the inability of today’s society to deliver upon these needs. With every passing generation, we have drifted further and further away from what made our culture originally relevant and inspired the best throughout the ages. Our past values were so powerful that the echos over the centuries still led to great achievements even after the culture that bore the great virtues had fallen.
Why did this happen? How did our popular culture arrive at this dismal point?
Living to your fullest, happiest, most powerful self is nearly impossible in a society structured as it is today – with its popular rules, expectations, and guidelines. Today there is an epidemic of shame, self-worth is determined by how much guilt one does and does not carry. Self-centeredness and selfishness run rampant as only self-perceptions of guilt and shame seem to moderate behavior. The Roman virtue of honor, being perceived as honorable by one’s family, community, colleagues, and nation is a general afterthought. We live in a world today where the honor of action is secondary to self-centered notions of guilt, sin, and jealousy.
Today we are so disconnected from what brings out the best in men and women that everywhere grown adults lack the basic skills to function. If not lost, they certainly feel and act lost. However, often they do not have the insight to realize that they are in fact lost. There is no true sense of their dismal circumstance. Just a grumbling unease always under the surface.
Therefore, is not surprising that both young men and women and those in their 50s and 60s see suicide rates going up decade over decade. Mental health continues to deteriorate year after year. Divorce is rampant. Men and women struggle to figure out their place in the world today that is fully disconnected from the wisdom and values of most of our ancestors throughout the ages. To put it simply, we live in a world not designed for us. A reality unnatural, one that is a poor fit towards our inborn innate dispositions.
We must bring back elements of the foundation of our society. We need to restore the Roman virtues, and elements of the Roman worldview, while also accounting for the positive progress of the past two millennia.
The evidence for this need is clear. Just look at the alarming rise of divorces. Couples in their 50s are divorcing at record rates. Couples are lost, so they assume their relationships are the problem. However, in the significant majority of these cases, this is a side effect, not the cause of the problem. The true problem is the utter meaninglessness and monotony of the modern value system that drives people over the edge. For the last 200 years, family, the domestic kingdom, is viewed as a quaint afterthought. Therefore is also not surprising that with ever-increasing frequency younger couples do not seek long-term relationships. The seeds that form the nuclei of domestic life are left unsown.
The result is a sea of people searching without knowing what they’re searching for. Unhappy, but not knowing why. Empty, without realizing they are empty. Alone, often without family, or estranged from family, or similarly disconnected from their community and others that share their value system and perspective. In fact, the cultural meat-grinder of modern popular society deemphasizes the importance of community. Instead, men and women are told self is all supreme. To emphasize this toxic subliminal programming further is the narcotic of social media, shame and guilt are the foci of spiritual practices, and anti-collaboration agendas reign supreme.
The product of this popular modern society is the empty shell of men and women. Masses unfulfilled, unaware of their true purpose, and lacking a value system that makes sense and is in chorus with their inner self – with the potential man or women they know they know they could be if fully unleashed and realized. For most, today, the self simply exists to serve the self. This is the dominant, mildly subliminal message from all facets of society.
So the masses are disappointed. Currently attempting to meet the expectations of popular modern society. They’re trying so hard to act how they are supposed to act. But remain unsatisfyingly confused, unfulfilled, and unhappy. Sometimes even physically ill. The man and woman of today are hopelessly ever out of reach of their maximum potential. Always striving, but never getting closer to their desired objective. Why is this? The truth is that popular society today systematically creates docile minds and individuals who are slaves to themselves and others in all but name. They are quick to give up their freedoms and submit to various groups or whims. They are set up to fail and do not know it or realize it.
History is a great teacher and course corrector. It tells how things have gone wrong, and how things are going right. History provides explanations for the rotting social fabric of popular society today. Similarly, it also gives us glimmers of optimistic progress – the abolishment of institutionalized slavery or the equality of men for instance. Just because time passes does not mean the net progress of the course of history is necessarily positive. We argue very much the opposite is true.
What if we had maintained the social and technological trajectory of the Roman first century? Of course, there are many things we would not emulate from this early period. However, we must not discount that the trajectory of history changed dramatically in the third century, and then again with the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century. What would our world and society be like today If we retained the Roman benefits over 2000 years without losing aspects of the foundation of Western civilization – Romanitas?
Our world, our lives would be a better place. Possibly a place of more harmony with lives filled with greater purpose and meaning, due to the primacy of honor over guilt, and the ever-present Roman virtues. We can reclaim what was lost within the modern Roman Republic (RomanRepublic.org). Our global civitas is a brother and sisterhood that represents a movement to introduce change into your life that is overwhelmingly positive. To wake up the dormant self that you were born to be. To change your worldview and perspective and in doing so enable you to be your best self. To be your Roman self.
Roman Frater, Roman Soror, if you are ready, then join as a Roman citizen at https://romanrepublic.org/roma/register/ and start your journey as we explore the virtues and how they can be made manifest in your life every day. To unlock who you are meant to be!
December 28, 2020 at 9:39 pm #40635
- This topic was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by Tiberius Terentius Varro.
Tiberius Sempronius GracchusDenarii: 𐆖 20.50PlebeiusGallia Mississippia
Thanks for this excellent article!
The greatest disappointment of our time is the division, and enmity that grew among our fellow citizens and the falling away of the values, civic virtue, shared sacrifice and obligation to each other encouraged by our founders in the U.S.. There has been an unimpeded growth of selfishness as we fell into a ‘me culture’ with everyone out for themselves. But history teaches us that this is a recurring and unfortunate characteristic of human nature. I attached a thought piece on how I think this happened to the Romans. Keep up the good work. I look forward to your next entry. Very best regards, William Denney, Ph.D.December 30, 2020 at 4:10 am #40636
Gaia Veturia SacerdosDenarii: 𐆖 178.20PlebeiusCalifornia Citerior
I feel that what we know of the past is colored by the passage of time and what has trickled down to us, safely and without ancient barbarism, so we may work with the crystal of Roman values in the best possible way. True, the self being beholden to the self is an aspect of the present day, as is the erosion, in all but oddly the most impoverished areas, of community. To rise up is to be free. To be independent. To stay within the inner city is to be at one with the ghetto, the barrio; a community for sure, yet one which is designed to rise above and not to stay within.
So, history tells us, two millennia ago, that a man was born who would free animals from sacrifice. Truly, this has been the situation for the public, and while we applaud our religious advances, still we partake of the worst of animal sacrifices … that which has been so degraded, so blasphemed, that it appears only in plastic wrapped pieces … unidentifiable as ever having lived at all … and this we call advancement in religious expression. I feel that it is true and just to remove sacrifice of unwilling beings from the religious plate. However; in doing so, we must grow up and away from purchasing the same in the market.
Thank you for a thought inspiring piece of writing.December 31, 2020 at 8:54 pm #40642
Paullus Trebatius MinervalisDenarii: 𐆖 160.10PlebeiusFlorida
This is a wonderfully thought provoking essay and I’m looking forward to reading more. I’m curious about what sort of commonalities ancient cultures had in the virtues they valued which we have all but forgotten today. The first thing to come to my mind Ti. Terentius Varro mentioned in the essay, honor. “The Roman virtue of honor, being perceived as honorable by one’s family, community, colleagues, and nation is a general afterthought.” I can’t think of a single virtue needed more in this day than a sense of honor as perceived by oneself, yes, but also by family, community, and colleagues.
As to Gaia Veturia Sacerdos’ comment: I have never in my life thought of animal sacrifice as a way of keeping the public better connected to where their food comes from. But now that you say it, I feel like that is such a powerful public representation of life, the food chain, and veneration for the gods.March 15, 2021 at 9:23 am #40834
I have started a new routine. Everyday I awake at 4AM. I light the lamps of my lararium and salute the gods. I offer incense to them and meditate. I then reflect on what information they reveal. I then immediately write down the inner voice inside myself by which I hear the gods. I believe this is likely how Marcus Aurelius created his meditations. The things you write become your scripture. Based on your experiences on this mortal earth and with the gods.
Here are my first reflections. I will post more as I create more.
I. The Roman people set great store in the value of the core family unit. The family is the root of everything. The core of all that is good in society. The cornerstone on which Romanitas rests.
II. The family is like an oasis in a desert. A refuge from the trials and tribulations of the outside world.
III. Home. The refuge of Vesta. Where we laugh, and talk, cook, eat, get drunk and dance around the table. Comfort, security, love. The glue that holds the community together. For in the end it is our families – our parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, nieces, children, and grandchildren – who we will mourn for the longest when they are gone, and who will mourn for us when we are gone.
IV. The family is the foundation of Roman life. The family is what keeps us on the right path. True happiness is found not in the distractions of the city but in the security of the hearth.
V. Home is where Vesta is, where the Lares dance freely. Here with our books. Where we can rest our weary heads, secure in knowing that the Lares watch over us, watch over our homes, our castles. There is nothing that man or nature can throw at the family that cannot be contained. This is our home. This is our castle.
VI. To the family belongs the hearth. The hearth represents fire. The symbol of life itself. The hearth is a warm, comforting, friendly place. The hearth is a place of protection. Tiberius, do you feel Vesta’s warm embrace here?
VII. See the flames of the hearth dance in the embers. Feed your desires with the coals and tinder. Listen to the hearthstone, feel it’s beat. Our primordial heart beats to its rhythm. And so too does the hearthstone echo our own heart. You can see the hearth shivering. Hear the life of the house. The laughter of the Lares just beyond your mortal senses. Now, a parent is like the hearth. They the source of healthy life. A father and mother are the household’s mortal center.March 16, 2021 at 10:36 pm #40897
My most recent reflections before the lararium.
A parent is an embodiment of the Lares, the household’s sacred heart. A father, ruler of his kingdom, his hallowed ground. A mother, master of her hearth. Together the heart of the house, the castle, the family. The separation of a mother or father from this heart is feared by children. A parent who has lost their soul is called “ruined.” To lose the heart is to become a widow to life. The expression “devour my heart” becomes synonymous with utter despair.
Parents’ love is all-encompassing, like the Lares’. A child fears the Lares of unknown places but feels safe in the embrace of his parents. The child wants to connect with his parents but doesn’t know how. Embracing parents is seen as “climbing on them,” being intimate. So too as we get older must we embrace and become intimate with the multitude of known and unknown divinities that inhabit the world.March 17, 2021 at 6:26 pm #40904
My reflections before the lararium earlier this morning:
Fear comes when we don’t know what qualities to look for in others – in other people, in potential lovers, in potential clients, in potential leaders, in potential wives and husbands.
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