“It is not living that matters, but living rightly.” – Socrates
The purpose of our existence in this world is to try to answer the question of the ages: “What is the best Way for us to live?” This great riddle applies not only to us as individuals, but to Us as a group of individuals as well. Determining exactly how that is best done is not as simple as it may sound.
“A President’s hardest task is not to do what is right, but to know what is right.” – Lyndon B. Johnson
As an individual, my body will decay unto death, but as a group, our Body is meant to live. We are One Body, growing, evolving, trying to determine how best to form and function – trying to determine how We can “live rightly.” And so We must ask our Self: If We, knowing everything we have discovered up to this point, if We were to attempt to form a society today… if We were to, once again and in our day, embark on a holy mission to create the “Great Society”… if We were to clear the board so to speak, and implement today’s best answers to age-old societal questions… What would We do? How would We best attempt to build a more perfect union today?
“Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.” – Lyndon B. Johnson
Would we create a government over us? And if so, what functions would it perform? How would it pay for itself? How would We, the Body of Us, in our day and in our time, strive for a better Life? How would We encourage our productive cells, shepherd our struggling, care for our disabled and elderly… all the while ensuring, first and foremost, that our Body is healthy? Because, for our Body to continue to live, for “Us” to have a future, we must ensure that our efforts to preserve old cells doesn’t prevent new ones from growing, that our efforts to aid failing cells doesn’t prevent productive ones from excelling, and that our efforts to reward productive cells doesn’t prevent our struggling from being able to blossom. And above all, if we prefer living to dying, we must ensure that our individual desires to live well today don’t trump our Body’s desire to live well tomorrow.
“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.” – Thomas Paine
So how best can we do that? It is a timeless question whose answers change and evolve in time and space. Philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Marx, and Rand have pondered them.
“It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
Pharaohs, Kings, Caesars, Tsars, Prime Ministers, and Presidents have tried to implement answers. And Great men, whose names are too many to count, have given their very lives to allow us to continue our pursuit for the answers.
Through it all, from cave drawings to internet blogs, from chariots to spaceships, and from spears to nuclear missiles, one thing has changed very little – the nature of Man. This is why, as we ask our Self the same questions in our day, we must look to history for guidance. By looking at our past, by examining what succeeded, what failed, and why, by understanding what decisions were made by our predecessors, why they made them, and then examining the results of those decisions, we can better determine our course forward today.
“History, in general, only informs us of what bad government is.” – Thomas Jefferson
By translating the lessons of yesterday into today’s flat world of genetic engineering, multinational corporations, internet commerce, and virtual workplaces, we can discern some better answers for our day, perhaps even avert the bankruptcy looming on our horizon, and implement the necessary changes required for our Body’s continued health. So my friends, with the understanding that it is our noble mission, under the humble disposition that we owe our ancestors and our grandchildren more than a bankrupt and broken nation, the following is my reading and interpretation of our history. If you are a historian, philosopher, politician, or learned citizen with a different reading of history, please help an ignorant man, yours truly, and give me your feedback. The goal is for us to get this right.
We’ve started societies since the beginning of time, and we are starting society again this very day.. so here we go.
“Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft.” – Winston Churchill