Noticing that a tyrant was killed on this day a long time ago


One of the things I love about Wikipedia’s calendar is that it marks anniversaries for events I have to admit I can’t quite figure out how they are able to mark out to a specific day in our contemporary calendar. It’s so arbitrary and sufficiently unlikely that the assertion emerges like a mermaid from a children’s wading pool. Totally unlikely. Totally unexpected.

Okay, that said, according to that increasingly venerable resource Wikipedia, today is the day in the year 41 that the emperor Caligula met his fate. He was killed we are told by a couple of sources by the Praetorian guard, who then put the crown on his uncle Claudius…

I’ve long wrestled with issues of nonviolence and pacifism. The best argument for that approach at least to me is the general law of unintended consequences. We kill and what do we get beyond, of course, a room full of blood?

And, yet, I find non resistance to evil equally unpalatable. I find a moral offense when I hear people say American slavery would have ended eventually. I have never heard a satisfactory, again, for me, response to opposing Hitler. And on that much smaller scale most of us live, I’ve never seen a bully stop because people didn’t resist.

And if there was ever a person who made the world just a little better by being killed, it was Caligula.

And, here I am…

Rough stuff this world where consequences play out in ways we cannot predict, and that every moment, whatever we do or refrain from doing will have a consequence.

Me, I find the rule of thumb as a person and for the state of which I am a part, a hope to be slow to violence.

But…

And within that hesitation, so much.

Not to opt out. Not to pretend I’m not part of the deal. Totally part of the deal.

And so. For me, I figure, a little humility is the best thing I can bring to the table, and as much self awareness as I can – because what I choose to do, or refrain from doing will have consequences.

Not just for me. We’re too intertwined for that little bit of illusion.

Messy world, this.

And not always fun…

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  • Cushing

    For a look on the bright side of the trend of consequences, you might want to check out Steve Pinker’s recent online research and writings, youtube lectures, etc. in which he presents a compelling case that the arc of human affairs seems over recent centuries to be tending away from violence. Whodathunkit?

  • TrevorLyman

    You might find this interesting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XL2CsxxHKPw