First, the Ancient Greeks, philosophers and statesmen. I came across a line that is so relevant today when North American leaders are talking about a slow reopening of the countries in order to save our fragile economy before we get bread lines everywhere. Plato said: "Good people do not need law to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." This is so, so very important in our world today. We as Canadians and Americans, on this great continent of ours, live free from oppression and we have morals and values to guide us without our governments having to resort to authoritarian violence to push us down. Most of us are good, compassionate and we will follow the rules like social distancing to try and save lives. We do not need lockdowns and emergency laws to compel most of us to do so. Therefore, the government should slowly open things up and count on the good majority- bad people will find ways around any laws and the majority should not suffer because of that. The next one has a lot to do with couples who are experiencing lots of frictions during this lockdown. Aristotle said: "Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy." This is such a huge eye opener. Couples attack each other for wrong reasons, to the wrong degree and at a wrong time even during the good times, let alone now. This, to me, has always been the heritage of our ancient, animalistic selves. We have to rise above it and not let our baser instincts destroy our relationships. Oh, and if we cannot convince ourselves to do this with our partners, the only option is to find someone you can be more reasonable and better with- you do not need to spend your entire life fighting someone you are supposed to love. Finally, here is a quote that gives us a hint why ancient peoples may have been more fearless in the face of death than we are today. Epicurus said: "Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist." Now, do not get me wrong, I want to live a long and healthy life just as anyone else, but this powerful quote encourages are to be brave in the face of death because death is absence of life and it should not concern us so much while we are alive. It is the perfect antidote for the poisonous angst we feel during the coronavirus pandemic.
Next, we have Roman quotes. While Ancient Greek quotes that we know best actually come from philosophers, the best Roman quotes seem to come from its leaders. Here is an interesting one from Caesar: "It is not these well-fed long-haired men that I fear, but the pale and the hungry-looking." Now, while this quote was originally directed at barbarians (non-Romans, in Caesar's case probably Gauls), it is a perfect quote for our coronavirus shutdown situation. It reminds us that the most powerful force in any society is the hungry majority that goes pale from starvation during tough times, and becomes desperate and willing to start a revolution in order to starve itself. If we want to weigh pros and cons of our collective situation right now, we have to obey our leaders, we can hear out our experts and our elites, but we should really, really pay most of our attention to those who are worst hit in this situation and figure out how much longer they can endure this before they are forced to do something drastic. Another great quote comes from Marcus Aurelius, one of Rome's great philosopher emperors: "Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." This is an excellent quote that reminds us it is difficult to know objective truth of the world around us. The best thing to do is to see and hear things from many different angles and sources, and as a result we will get through this entire situation much better than if we close off and form our ideas about what is going on in total isolation. A final quote that really caught my eye was said by Augustus, the first Roman emperor: "Young men, hear an old man to whom old men hearkened when he was young." This one is a real gem in my humble opinion. All of our leaders, experts, even our parents- basically all symbols of wisdom and authority- used to be young whipper snappers that their elders used to not take seriously haha! This reminds us to humble our leaders and experts because they have not always been wise and great- they were clueless young people too! Also, it reminds us to fight against anything they may do to cause our growth and development to become stunted- we need a great environment with opportunity to grow, or else we will become stupider leaders and experts than our predecessors, whereas we really should become smarter than them in order for our society to advance.
Honestly, dearest readers, I do not think I would end up reading these quotes and much more if this shutdown did not happen. Now that I did, and now that I had a chance to discuss it with my friends, I realize that ancient knowledge is very valuable today and that those people were not completely backward at all. They were wealthy enough to have leisure time, and they often used it to question the meaning of life, the workings of our brains, the afterlife and more. I feel that what I read will ground me in such a way that I will handle the current situation so much better. How do you feel about these quotes, and do you have some fav ancient quotes to share?