Saturday, August 18, 2007

marcus aurelius still makes sense today

Emperor Marcus Aurelius of the Roman Empire, who served from AD 161 until his death in AD 180, once made a brilliant observation about the majority. Rush Limbaugh mentioned it on his show this week, and I'll quote it here. From El Rushbo:

Marcus Aurelius on the Majority

RUSH: Marcus Aurelius: "The object of life..." By the way, Eric from Tampa, if you're still out there and you're heading over to Middlesex University, this is a great quote to take with you, or for any kid going off to college. It's actually applicable to all of us: "The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding one's self in the ranks of the insane." Now, to me, this is brilliant. Independents and moderates do precisely this. They sit around and they wait for a majority to form and then they join it, because they can feel like they're part of the majority. They wait to see what makes 'em feel best, and then they join it, and they often end up joining the ranks of the insane. You could say this about global warming opposition. The easy thing to do is to believe it. "Oh, yeah, there's all kind of global warming and it's manmade. Yeah." Get in on it because everybody will applaud you. But you're joining the ranks of the insane if you do that because you're seeking to be part of the majority, and so I just love this quote.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it quite funny that you should quote Marcus Aurelius with such reverence on a "christian conservative" blog. Every high school history student knows that the Emperor was an atheist stoic and persecuted Christians with great fervor.

But you would have known that if you actually read Aurelius rather than taking snippets directly from Rush. You have your own mind. It doesn't hurt to use it on occasion.

I'll leave you with another quote from Marcus Aurelius, this one on the futility of religious faith:

"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."

2:35 PM  
Blogger hondo said...

It has always amazewd me at how simplistic the so-called progressive thought process is. According to Anonymous, I must discount everything that Marcus Aurelius said because he was an atheist.

You are correct about the emperor being a rotton human being. He was evil personified. That doesn't mean that his thoughts on the majority were incoreect. They weren't. That also doesn't mean that I would agree with his opinions on religion. I don't.

You see, that's the difference between a liberal and a conservative. I agree wholeheartedly with the quote on being in the majority. We have way too many people in America, including most Democrats, who base their opinions solely on polls. They want to be part of the majority so bad that they will say, do, and believe anything that they think the majority wants to hear.

Principled conservatives don't operate like that. We stake out a position based on truth, and we stick to that position regardless of the fickle winds of public opinion. That's a fact.

By the way, I also found it interesting that you couldn't bring yourself to comment directly on the point I made in my post. You just changed the subject and launched into a personal attack. That doesn't take a whole lot of intelligence, now does it?

Question: Who is really using their brain, liberal scarecrow?

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m not sure what led you to believe that I’m a “progressive” or a “liberal”. I’m a registered Republican of the libertarian variety, which would mean your accusations could hardly be further from the truth.

My comment was merely intended to point out the absurdity of quoting in the manner you did someone whose views oppose your own on almost every level. I’m sure that Joseph Stalin said a few clever things in his time, but I don’t go around writing blog titles like “STALIN STILL MAKES SENSE TODAY”.

But, if you think “evil personified” is worthy of a ‘tip of the hat’ on your blog, who am I to argue? Thing is, I have a funny hunch that you didn’t know much at all about Marcus Aurelius when you made your original post.

The man was an atheist Emperor – a famous persecutor of those who subscribed to Christianity AND violator of Conservatism (the two titular foundations of your blog). If you knew either of these facts, I think it is reasonable to assume that you would have made mention of them in a post lauding his notably “brilliant” clarity of thought. Instead, you trusted Rush to do the thinking for you and wound up looking foolish.

Your user information says that you are a teacher. I hope that you don’t teach history.

I’d be happy to respond to any points you care to make. Maybe I read it incorrectly, but it seems your “post” only consisted of a direct quote from the Rush show that was in turn quoting a dead Roman Emperor.

5:33 PM  
Blogger hondo said...

Congratulations Anonymous! You still haven't responded to the point I made in my post. Perhaps reading comprehension is not your strong suit. I'll go ahead and spell out the point of my post, and I'll type slowly so that you can understand.

Marcus Aurelius was speaking of the the importance of decisiveness and boldness. He was speaking out against those timid souls who will never express an opinion or who will never take a stand because they are afraid to rise up above the crowd. His comment is especially appropriate today, when so many of our elected leaders refuse to take a position on the issues of the day until they see the polling data. So many of our politicians only mouth the opinions of the majority of those people they want votes from, and that's shameful.

That's not what leadership is all about. Positive leadership is all about taking the principled, just position, whether it's popular or not, and then leading others towards that position.

The quote from Aurelius is brilliant. As a history teacher (and an outstanding history teacher, if I do say so myself) I am well aware of the legacy of Marcus Aurelus. That doesn't make his statement about leadership incorrect.

I will tell you why I labeled you as a progressive. You followed the standard liberal progressive strategy of ignoring the subject of my post. I have found that liberals, 99.9% of the time, realize in their tiny little brains that facts, logic and reason are not on their side. In an intellectual battle, they are unarmed. For that reason, liberals always resort to changing the subject, and ridiculing the conservative for some perceived character flaw, and refusing to debate the conservative on the merits of their position. Liberals relentlessly search for reasons why the conservative is not entitled to take a stand on the issue in question, instead of just bucking up and simply debating the conservative on the issue. That is what you have done.

Let's recap. I took the position that Marcus Aurelius was correct with his statement about the insanity of always seeking to be in the majority. You ignored the merits of that position and instead chose to ridicule me for quoting a despotic ruler. I offered you the opportunity to respond to the actual point I was making. You refused that opportunity, and instead clung to your childish taunts. As an outstanding teacher of history (and U.S. Government as well) I would have to label you as an "intentional non-learner." There is nothing more I can do for you. You have made the intentional decision to stay "stuck on stupid," as the saying goes. That is your right. Good luck in all of your future endeavours.

By the way, if you have read any of my posts before, you would know that I don't care what political persuasion a person is if they have something worthwhile to say. I don't believe that there is any value in ignoring worthwhile opinions of a person based solely upon their conduct or political beliefs. By the same token, I don't believe that there is any value in blindly accepting the opinions of other Christian conservatives as truth based solely upon their overall philosophies. God gave us a brain and He gave us the ability to use it. I enjoy using mine, and I highly recommend that you do the same.

12:17 AM  
Blogger hondo said...

By the way, anonymous, I happened to come upon some quotes from a guy named Adolph Hitler (I think I've heard of him someplace, but I'm not sure where). These are brilliant quotes from a man who wasn't very nice to his fellow man:

"The greater the lie, the greater the chance that it will be believed."

"The doom of a nation can be averted only by a storm of flowing passion, but only those who are passionate themselves can arouse passion in others."

"It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge."

Those are brilliant quotes filled with truth from one of the most evil men of the 20th Century. I guess that makes me a Nazi, right?

If you would like to comment on the truth of those quotes, please feel free to respond. If you just want to call me a stupid Nazi, you may do that as well. I love it when a liberal exposes their foolishness for all the world to see.

12:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m the only one commenting on this post, so calling me anything at all is a tad unnecessary. That said, if you feel you need to use a name, continuing to use “liberal” is either disingenuous or dense on your part. I have already stated that my political philosophy (again, libertarian Republican) is in total opposition to that of the liberals in the Democratic party. Further, it’s baffling that you should snidely refer to me as “anonymous” as if it were a slur. I certainly don’t recall you disclosing your identity anywhere on this blog. But I digress.

You’d like me to respond to the Aurelius adage? That’s easy - I agree. I think the value of personal consistency is worth far more than any temporary popularity boost that can be had by catering to the majority opinion. Undoubtedly many politicians (Democratic and otherwise) fall victim to that temptation. But, as Voltaire famously said, “Un bon mot ne prouve rien”. I hope for the sake of your blog that you can think of more compelling things to “debate”.

My original comment was clearly not about the quote, but instead directed to the *manner* with which you brought it up. There was an amusing tinge of irony implicit in a self-described “Christian Conservative” referencing with such wide-eyed admiration an Atheist Emperor who would have thrown them to the lions if he had the chance. That’s all. It was a very simple observation that somehow managed to go over your (history major?!?) head.

Your Adolf Hitler maxims only serve as a reminder of just how rare it is for someone to fawn over the witticisms of a figure whose famous achievements they find to be repugnant. A great part of the power of quotation is the personality behind the words. Readers heed humorous advice from Ben Franklin that they would have brushed off had it come from their drunkard uncle.

Hitler’s sayings are nearly always presented to in order to offer cautionary insight into the mind of a madman. Your comment was the first time that I can remember someone claiming that his words carry any kind of shining truth for the ages. Now I’m hardly saying you’re a Nazi if you quote him, but you might want to seek professional help if you regularly find yourself thumbing through “Mein Kampf” for inspiration. In other words, there might be some lost jewelry at the bottom of the sewer, but I’d question the necessity of digging through the filth when there is a jeweler on Main Street.

Lastly, I’d like to point out that by bringing up Hitler, you unwittingly invoked Godwin's Law and have summarily lost this argument.

5:02 PM  
Blogger hondo said...

Thank you anonymous. You finally commented on the actual topic of my post and--surprise!--you agree with me. The Emperor was correct in his assessment. Thank you for playing!

8:10 PM  

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