"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Sunday, January 7, 2007

We are the Romans

Canada.com ("Does America Need a Foreign Legion?") points out that at a comparable stage in their development, the Romans had to pay armies to fight for them. The local population had gotten too used to a "welfare state."

The Romans, a warlike culture, had their famously cynical slogan "bread and circuses" -- meaning that was the way to keep the population docile, and we've certainly got our share of circuses. Reality TV, celebrity gossip. If the economy keeps spiralling downward, we have to ask if it's not part of the strategy to keep the poor enlisting, not to mention an eventual result of enriching the defense industries, thereby completing a very vicious circle.

Fortunately for us, ground troops are really not necessary any more, and if people get used to eating, that's a good thing. Diplomatic and economic strategies are very effective, even if they don't redistribute money from the taxpayers to the defense industries owned by the president's friends.

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