But thus I counsel you, my friends: Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful. They are people of a low sort and stock; the hangmen and the bloodhound look out of their faces. Mistrust all who talk much of their justice! Verily, their souls lack more than honey. And when they call themselves the good and the just, do not forget that they would be pharisees, if only they had—power.
It is necessary to leave the deceptive and magical “circle” and be able to conceive something else, to acquire new eyes and new ears in order to perceive things that have become invisible and mute with the passing of time. It is only by going back to the meanings and the visions that existed before the establishment of the causes of the present civilization that it is possible to achieve an absolute reference point—the key for real understanding of all modern deviations—and at the same time to find a strong defense and an unbreakable line of resistance for those who, despite everything, will still be standing…
The only thing that matters today is the activity of those who can “ride the wave” and remain firm in their principles, unmoved by any concessions and indifferent to the fevers, the convulsions, the superstitions, and the prostitutions that characterize modern generations.
A mere theory of life, that remains but a theory, is about as useful to a man, as a gilt-edged menu is to a starving sailor on a raft in mid- ocean. It is irritating but not stimulating. No rule for higher living will help a man in the slightest, until he reach out and appropriate it for himself, until he make it practical in his daily life, until that seed of theory in his mind blossom into a thousand flowers of thought and word and act.
Makedon’s seventeen reasons for Greek success
Some of the reasons mentioned by those who examined Greek culture, then, include, first, democracy, where free speech and public criticism were openly practiced; and a corresponding hatred for tyrannies or one-man-rule of all kinds.
Second, striving for excellence by the public at large. This happened through the internalization over the centuries of the heroic or ‘aristocratic’ ideal by the masses, in the classical sense of ‘aristocratic’ as the rule of the excellent.
Third, a corresponding effort at moral excellence, including not only constantly inquiring which life is worth living, but also people practicing what they preached.
Fourth, ‘fighting graft and corruption’ at all levels, with a corresponding internalization over the centuries of certain basic civic values. For example, even the slightest infraction by someone entrusted with a public office may lead not only to his dismissal, but also to his exile from the city state.
Fifth, trying to overcome personal weaknesses, which may be seen as a corollary to their unusually intense attempts to excel.
Sixth, behaving with the highest integrity even in the absence of immediate supervision.
Seventh, subscribing to the ‘agonistic’ or competitive spirit, mostly through playful contests and competitions.
Eighth, rewarding individuals on the basis of merit, as opposed to wealth, or family or political connections. This led to the birth of the Olympic Games in Greece, which in ancient Greece included not only physical, but also literary, dramatic, and musical contests.
Ninth, instituting education through play.
Tenth, designing a whole city as the school, by building it for personal effort and refinement, than mere protection from the elements.
Eleventh, making public facilities free to the poor, so everyone could abundantly benefit from opportunities for self-development.
Twelfth, inviting young people to adult events, where there were amble opportunities for learning through emulation by the young. In such situations, adults usually acted uprightly in their capacity as role models.
Thirteenth, exercising neighborhood supervision over the young, similar to the supervision exercised in Philippine barangays, except with many more opportunities for the worthy canalization of youthful energy through sports, and artistic and educational contests.
Fourteenth, the institutionalization through art of numerous role models, including lining streets with statues of heroes.
Fifteenth, involving numerous adults in a city-wide network of mentors who were not only unpaid, but considered it their honor to pay themselves for the pedagogical expenses of their proteges.
Sixteenth, subscribing to an informal educational system of expert itinerant teachers, called ‘sophists,’ who provided both an excellent education, and a model of excellence in learning, and were amply rewarded for their professional services.
And seventeenth, placing a priority on public service and philanthropy, as contrasted to personal accumulation of wealth at the expense of the common good. For example, the wealthy were expected to pay a large part of the cost of large public projects.