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Posts Tagged ‘Edith Hamilton’

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Austin Texas February 2021



There could be only one result . . . If men insisted on being free from the burden of a life that was self-dependent and also responsible for the common good, they would cease to be free at all. Responsibility was the price every man must pay for freedom. It was to be had on no other terms.

Edith Hamilton, The Echo of Greece [1957]



I was looking for a song to play for this week’s Sunday Morning Music and I stumbled across a Chris Rea song from the 1980’s, from an album of his that I listened to quite often back in the day. I searched the blog’s archives to make sure I hadn’t played it before or too recently.

I found that the last time I used a Chris Rea song here was last April. It was the title song, The Road to Hell, and it was used in a blog post about how people were using the word freedom in those early days of the pandemic as an excuse for refusing to accept any responsibility or accountability to their fellow citizens. For example, their right to get their hair cut–or wear a mask, god forbid!– was greater than any responsibility they held for the safety and welfare of those folks that they came in touch with.

In that post I employed some quotes from the late Classicist scholar/mythologist Edith Hamilton that described the lack of responsibility and accountability that marked the downfall of the Athenian empire. There was the quote at the top along with this:

When the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.

Her words really struck me last April in that it was the same shirking of duty and responsibility that we have been experiencing here in recent times, a trend that really stood out during our time of greatest need. People wanted to say they were free but only with the implication that it meant that they were free from all, responsibility, accountability, empathy, or conscience. 

That might be some sort of libertarian wet dream but that ain’t freedom, folks. At least, not for a country as wide and as varied as we are.

I’ve said it before: Freedom ain’t free.

Reading this blog post from last year reminded me of the situation that has been taking place in Texas. Now, I don’t claim to know all the intricacies of Texas power ( or political power) system so I can’t really make any informed commentary but it sure seems like what took place in recent times there pretty much lined up with Edith Hamilton’s words.

Put plainly, people entrusted to provide necessary services grabbed all the cash they could while doing as little as possible to maintain or improve the system or to accept any sort of personal responsibility for the citizenry they served.

The privatized power system was a cash cow that was there to be milked until it fell over and died. Then they thought they could simply walk away, buckets of cash in hand.

That’s how it looks to me but like I said, I don’t jack about what really goes on down there. But privatizing something so important as the power system without having a mechanism for accountability seems like a recipe for disaster. And this disaster, while labeled as a natural disaster, was more of a man-made disaster, one of great negligence.

I don’t think this is the same sort of freedom that Texans think they were told that this would provide.

End of commentary. Well, close to the end.

Anyway, this post reminded me of another Chris Rea from that same album, a song called Texas. It’s about a guy in, I Believe, Ireland who dreams of Texas, fantasizing about its size and wide open spaces. He sees it as a place of escape. A place where a man can be free. 

Hopefully, his idea of being free is not the same sort of freedom that we’re seeing come to fore at the present. 

Anyway, here’s the song Texas set to a wonderful slideshow of the natural beauty and wonders that make Texas an exceptional place. That exceptional is code for one of my Texas friends. He’ll get it. 

To my friends in Texas, glad to see the cold weather moving past you now. Now comes the hard work of cleaning up and restoring some sense of normalcy. Let’s work on our empathy and our responsibility to those around us so that we can all weather the next storm.

 After all, freedom ain’t free, my friends. Have a good day.



 

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There could be only one result  . . .  If men insisted on being free from the burden of a life that was self-dependent and also responsible for the common good, they would cease to be free at all. Responsibility was the price every man must pay for freedom. It was to be had on no other terms.

Edith Hamilton, The Echo of Greece [1957]

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Spent the last hour scouring the websites online trying to find some Clorox suppositories.

Or some sort of light bulb I could swallow that would cleanse my innards with its light and heat. I tried it with one here in the studio but burned the hell out of my lips before I could get it down my gullet.

Should have used an LED, I guess.

I thin I’m going to give up for now. Maybe I’ll try again later, after I get a rubdown at Fat Gert’s Massage Hut, a few frames at the Bowlarama and a quick touch up of the tattoo of Robert E. Lee holding a Confederate Flag that adorns my backside. I need to have more white added to Lee’s beard and a little more red on that rebel flag.

In reality, my head just hurts from the sheer amount of stupidity and reckless irresponsibility we’re witnessing in this country, from the alleged leader** of the country to the morons trying to block hospital entrances in protest over the fact that they can’t get their roots dyed or eat fajitas at Chili’s.

They scream out that it’s their liberty, the freedom to do whatever the hell they want to do with no responsibility to anyone or anything but their needs and desires.

It’s a most self-centered reading of that word, freedom. It might have been applicable ages ago, in the time of the Neanderthals or other ancient times but even then, freedom entailed a certain degree of responsibility to the clan or tribe in order to survive and to maintain safety and order.

Freedom always coexists with a responsibility for the common good of whatever form of society in which one lives. It doesn’t supersede it.

Without maintaining the common good of all those in that society, all freedoms were at peril. As the classicist author and educator Edith Hamilton points out in writings on the Athenian empire’s fall: When the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.

I understand that we all want this to be over, that people with the attention spans of fruit flies will get crazy anxious to get things moving. But no matter the amount of  Magical Thinking that flows through the addled mind of the president**,  our wishes and desires do not affect not how pandemics resolve themselves.

It takes time and concerted efforts to come up with real solutions based on sound science. It requires the smartest, most capable people trying to balance the common good with allowable liberties.

There are no shortcuts. You can’t say, “Screw this thing, I am going to do what I want to do and anybody that doesn’t like it can go to hell.

That attitude might work in some situations and might even be recommended in some.

But this ain’t one of them.

Now is a time of responsibility, of possibly sacrificing our selfish desires for the common good. I know that’s asking a lot in a country that is led by perhaps the most selfish human alive on this planet but it’s the only way out of this, short of being willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands more people, maybe your family and friends among them, so that you can feel like a free man in ‘murica.

Okay, I actually feel better after spewing that out. Here’s an old song, The Road to Hell, from an album of the same title in the late 80’s from Chris Rea that fills the bill this morning. It was pretty good album, one that I revisit every now and then.

Give a listen and if you can find those Clorox suppositories– well, you know what to do with them.

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