As I wind my way through to deadline (in three weeks for me), I find myself not only writing, but more or less stuck with my nose in history almost continually. And I’ve found something interesting, I think. Now this isn’t my usual Native Amrican post, so please bear with me. In fact, this is quite a different post in that it’s about Greece.
What? Greece? Why would I be studying Greek History? Don’t know what to say except in my studies, I found a reference to Pericles — The Age of Pericles. There were some similarties to what I was studying and enough to make me interested enough to learn a little. Let me tell you how I got here. I’ve been studying the Iroquois Confederacy and was intrigued by the fact that it was founded by Hiawatha (the real one) and a man called the Peacemaker. Not only did they found this Confederacy, they founded it to ensure that all men would live in freedom, that all men would have a voice in their government and they founded it to bring peace to the land they called Turtle Island (North America).
Pericles lived around 495? – 429 BC. And he did much the same for Greece and Rome and England, France and the United States, as Hiwatha and the Peacemaker did for the Iroquois Confederation. Here are some of his famous quotes:
Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.
If Athens shall appear great to you, consider then that her glories were purchased by valiant men, and by men who learned their duty.
Instead of looking on discussion as a stumbling block in the way of action, we think it an indispensable preliminary to any wise action at all.
Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.
Make up your mind that happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.
It wasn’t that Pericles was a successful politician. In fact, pretty much the opposite. What he did do, however, is this: he influenced and sparked freedom in not only Greece, but in Rome, England, France and the United States. He who would read Pericles learns not only a little of Greek history, but of how valuable freedom is. It was Pericles who said,
“Every man may have a voice and my express his opinion in his government and the actions of his culture. Men are entitled to that voice. And the culture itself should contribute to them the availability of information so that they can know what the culture consists of.”
Not only did he say that all men should have a voice in their government, he said that all men WILL have a voice in their government, forever. Now that’s a pretty brave thing to say, considering that time could find him to be wrong. It sounds to me like it comes straight out of the mouth of Thomas Jefferson.
At the time , this idea — that all men should be free — that all men should have a voice in their government — that all men should be allowed to understand and contribute to their government — was a new idea. Republics and freedom are not the average form of government down through the ages on this planet. Prior to Pericles, tyrants ruled. But after Pericles, and since that time, those tyrants who have sought to raise their heads have perished. Sure they might succeed for a number of years,but their demise is almost always accomplished. And so it has beens since the Age of Pericles.
Our Founding Fathers were more than aware of the Age of Pericles and were educated in practically nothing but the Golden Age of Greece, an interesting thing to ponder, since it says that Pericles influenced people 2000 years after his life.
Now, I’m not saying that the Peacemaker and Hiawatha were as influencial as Pericles or that the Native Americans had a sort of Republic of Greece established here in America. What they did have was a government that was set up to be governed by the people. Every man and woman was free, free to speak and to utter their opinions freely without consequence. That the Iroquois Confederacy lost its power was not due to its inadequacy, for it influenced a people for well over 200 years and brought prosperity and peace to an entire people. Their power was lost in duplicity, land grabs, lies, dishonesty — plus half of their people being on the wrong side of the Revolutionary War — the Mohawk sided with England mostly — due to their pledge to the English — what they called the Covenant Chain.
But what the Peacemaker and Hiawatha did that was so similar to Pericles in my consideration was that they set into motion an ideal for the future. They said that all people have an interest in their government, that all people have a right to speak their ideas and opinions, and that Turtle Island would lead the world to peace — they wished for freedom for all people and hoped to include all people of Turtle Island in their prosperity.
There have been many great people who have lived on this planet. I thought I’d mention these three, who have so captured my admiration.
I’d love to talk with you today, so please come on in and tell me what you think of all this. By the way, did you learn Greek history in school? I surely didn’t. Nor had I even heard of Pericles until I stumbled upon this history. I’m glad to know, however, that my daughters had some studies in Greek literature (I”m not so certain of its history). How about you?
I’ll be doing a drawing at the end of the day and will be giving away a book to one lucky blogger. So come on in and leave a comment. Oh, and please be sure to pick up your copy of Black Eagle today!