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SENTRY JOURNAL » Constitution, Founding Fathers, Games, Rome, Sports » Lessons from Rome: Entertain the people with games

Lessons from Rome: Entertain the people with games

Like many Americans I’m a huge sports fan.  I like a number of different sporting events from NASCAR to football.  Most team sports are a combination of individual effort and teamwork with a goal of winning.  Whether you participate or you’re a spectator, we all tend to get caught up in the games.  For a moment in time our troubles seem to lessen as we cheer on our favorite team or player.  We experience their successes and failures as if they were our own.  Yes that’s right for a moment in time we are distracted from everyday events and all things feel right with sports; we are entertained and happy for it.

In the last days of the Roman Republic the senate was corrupt and for sale to the highest bidder. The people were restless with their elected officials as the senate stripped more and more of their liberties away.  They felt like their voices were being ignored.  A new political threat from opportunistic generals was on the horizon.  Pompey, Crassus, and Caesar were positioning themselves for power with the First Triumvirate. Rome was fundamentally changing and the people could feel it.  Marcus Tullius Cicero a champion for the people and a powerful orator stood up and challenged the corruption in the senate and called for a return to the old republic.  People started listening to the words of this man as it threatened to halt Rome’s drift towards an empire.  It was time to distract the people from their troubles.  Let the games begin.  The crafty politicians and generals decided that the best way to subdue the mob was to entertain them with games.  With games the people did not need to trouble themselves with the daily mundane activities of the senate and politicians.  In fact in 65 BC, Julius Caesar spent an enormous amount of money to entertain the masses with games and the people loved it!

Eventually Caesar emerged as the leading political figure after a series of civil wars.  He was given the title of dictator for life by the senate and in-turn he greatly diminished the senate’s powers.  Rome remained a republic in name only.  How similar these events seem today.

Today we are faced with comparable threats to our own republic.  Our senate is corrupt, and opportunistic forces are on the horizon to fundamentally change our nation.  Our Constitution is under constant attack and our history is being watered down by a new progressive version of it.  The people are feeling restless and uneasy about the events of the day.  They feel that something doesn’t feel right and their voices are not being heard.  We now see Tea Party rallies and they are growing in size as more and more people recognize that our republic’s survival hangs in the balance.  This is a time when we should be focused on the powerful political shifts that are taking place in the nation in regards to the relationship between the government and the people.  This is the time when people should be digging for information about the Founding Fathers and reading our Constitution.  This is the time when people should be standing up to save the republic from the destructive path our government has us on.  And yet when I listened to people today at work, all I heard were people debating if Butler could beat Duke in the NCAA basketball championship.  I heard people talking about the Donovan McNabb trade to the Washington Redskins and what it means for the NFC East.  The people were entertained and talking about something other than the plight of our republic.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with finding an escape every now and then from our troubles, however when I see this I can’t help but recall my Roman history and the pivotal role games played in its transformation.

You see Americans love competition much like the Romans did.  We love the games because like I said they sweep us up and lessen our worries for a short time.  They allow us to be part of something we perceive is bigger than ourselves.  However in the end they distract us from what we should be really focusing on.  I once said that if people would commit one fourth of the energy that they have towards their favorite sports team and channel that energy towards our Constitution and the Founders we would not even be in this mess.  We would be a nation grounded in the principles of our Founders and following our Constitution.  Instead we are becoming a republic in name only.  Can we can find this one fourth to save our wonderful republic or do we lessen our worries through games and allow the republic to slip away?

History is always whispering in our ears.  Maybe if we pull our heads out of the games for a short time we will hear what history is trying telling us.

Liberty forever, freedom for all!


Filed under: Constitution, Founding Fathers, Games, Rome, Sports

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  • The Born Again American April 6, 2010 at 3:39 AM

    Great post John… You have 100% of my time, at least until Gator football starts, oh and there's that job thingy, but other than that… We have started our "Patriots at the Tavern" night where we get together and brainstorm… It's almost as good as a Gator game…

  • John Carey April 6, 2010 at 4:57 AM

    Thanks for the comments BA. Don't get me wrong, I still like sports and feel they have their place. The point I'm trying to make is people need to step back sometimes and prioritize. I think it's great you have started Patriots at the Tavern. You are indeed a Patriot fighting on the frontlines to save our republic and I thank you for that.

  • LD Jackson April 6, 2010 at 5:44 AM

    Great post, John. I am not all that much of a sports fan, although I used to be a giant Oklahoma Sooners fan when I was growing up in the 70s.

    I have nothing against people having fun and relaxing, which is part of what sports allows us to do. I like to go hunting and shooting as much as the next fella, but I have told my wife many times that our country is in a frenzy of having a good time. The perception that I have is that not much is being taken seriously and I think our country is suffering because of it.

  • faithfulinprayer April 6, 2010 at 12:02 PM

    I'm not a sports fan at all but I get what you're talking about. You can replace sports with American Idol, prime time soaps, computer games, etc.

    I work among all Christians. When I try to talk about something happening in the world of politics, they just totally tune out and say things like, "that just depresses me, I don't want to know". Yet the same person will go into prayer meeting and thank the Lord for the freedom to meet together to pray. They just don't get it.

    One day people are going to wake up and see that all of their freedoms have been taken away.

  • John Carey April 6, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    Thanks for the comments Larry. I'm not against doing things that are relaxing and take the mind away for a bit. In fact I believe it is vital, but balance and moderation is the key. It seems that so many get caught up in sports and other activities to the point it becomes the main focus in their lives. We must remember that we also have responsibilities as citizens. I just want us to keep this in mind.

  • John Carey April 6, 2010 at 6:28 PM

    Thank you for dropping by Faithfulinprayer. I can definitely relate to people tuning me out when I begin to discuss political matters. I get pretty much the same reaction. The good news is that more people do seem interested and want to learn more. We just need to stand by our principles and keep plugging away. They'll eventually get it.

  • Harrison April 6, 2010 at 11:33 PM

    Well yes, sort of. Rome wasn't a Democracy. We have the voters to blame ultimately, not the politicians.

  • John Carey April 7, 2010 at 5:08 AM

    Thanks for dropping by Harrison. I agree with you that voters do hold a great deal of responsibility for this mess. I mean after all we are the one who put these buffoons in office. You are also correct when you stated Rome was not a democracy. It was a republic much like the United States. Well in the latter years it was more like a republic in name only. By the time of Caesar most of the rights and liberties of the average Roman citizen were already stripped away.

  • Matt April 9, 2010 at 9:57 PM

    Bread and circuses still resonates through history. I see much of what you're talking about, and even more of what Jackie is saying. We have so many distractions that it is easy to get away from what really matters.

  • John Carey April 10, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    Thanks for the comments Matt. Distractions are indeed a tactic. Just like creating an environment that feeds a crisis. Both can be a means that justifies the ends.