An ancient Greek approach to risk and the lessons it can offer the modern world


A vase from ancient Greek civilization depicts Apollo consulting the oracle of Delphi. G. Dagli Orti/DeAgostini Collection via Getty Images

Joshua P. Nudell, Westminster College

Most of us take big and small risks in our lives every day. But COVID-19 has made us more aware of how we think about taking risks.

Since the start of the pandemic, people have been forced to weigh their options about how much risk is worth taking for ordinary activities – should they, for example, go to the grocery store or even turn up for a long-scheduled doctor’s visit?

As a scholar of ancient Greek history, I am interested in what the classics can teach us about risk-taking as a way to make sense of our current situation.

Greek mythology features godlike heroes, but Greek history was filled with men and women who were exposed to great risks without the comforts of modern life.

The iron generation

One of the earliest written works in Greek is “Works and Days,” a poem by a farmer named Hesiod in the eighth century B.C. In it, Hesiod addresses his lazy brother, Perses.

The most famous section of “Works and Days” describes a cycle of generations. First, Hesiod says, Zeus created a golden generation who “lived like the gods, having hearts free from sorrow, far from work and misery.”

Then came a silver generation, arrogant and proud.

Third was a bronze generation, violent and self-destructive.

Fourth was the age of heroes who went to their graves at Troy.

Finally, Hesiod says, Zeus made an iron generation marked by a balance of pain and joy.

While the earliest generations lived life free of worries, according to Hesiod, life in the current iron generation is shaped by risk, which leads to pain and sorrow.

Throughout the poem, Hesiod develops an idea of risk and its management that was common in ancient Greece: People can and should take steps to prepare for risk, but it is ultimately inescapable.

As Hesiod says, “summer won’t last forever, build granaries,” but for people of the current generation, “there is neither a stop to toil and sorrow by day, nor to death by night.”

In other words, people face the consequences of risk – including suffering – because that is the will of Zeus.

Omens and divination

If the outcome of risk was determined by the gods, then one critical part of preparing to face uncertainty was to try to find out the will of Zeus. For this, the Greeks relied on oracles and omens.

While the rich might pay to petition the oracle of Apollo at Delphi, most people turned to simpler techniques to seek guidance from the gods, such as throwing dice made of animal knuckle bones.

Dice made of bone
Marry, or stay single? Ancient Greeks, at times, let the dice decide. PHAS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A second technique involved inscribing a question on a lead tablet, to which the god would provide an answer such as “yes” or “no.” These tablets record a wide range of concerns from ordinary Greeks. In one, a man named Lysias asks the god whether he should invest in shipping. In another, a man named Epilytos asks whether he should continue in his current career and whether he ought to wed a woman who shows up, or wait. Nothing is known about either man except that they turned to the gods when confronted with uncertainty.

Omens were also used to inform almost every decision, whether public or private. Men called “chresmologoi,” oracle collectors who interpreted the signs from the gods, had enormous influence in Athens. When the Spartans invaded in 431 B.C., the historian Thucydides says, they were everywhere reciting oracular responses. When plague struck Athens, he notes that the Athenians called to mind just such a prophecy.

Chresmologoi played so much of a role in bolstering public confidence that the wealthy Athenian politician Alcibiades privately contracted them as spin doctors in order to persuade people to overlook the risks of an expedition to Sicily in 415 B.C.

Mitigating risks

For the Greeks, putting faith in the gods alone did not fully protect them from risk. As Hesiod explained, risk mitigation required attending to both the gods and human actions.

Generals, for example, made sacrifices to gods like Artemis or Ares in advance of battle, and the best commanders knew how to interpret every omen as a positive sign. At the same time, though, generals also paid attention to strategy and tactics in order to give their armies every advantage.

Neither was every omen heeded. Before the Athenian expedition to Sicily in 415 B.C., statues sacred to Hermes, the god of travel, were found with their faces scratched out.

The Athenians interpreted this as a bad omen, which may have been what the perpetrators intended. The expedition sailed anyway, but it ended in a crushing defeat. Few of the people who left ever returned to Athens.

The evidence was clear to the Athenians: The desecration of the statues had put everyone in the expedition at risk. The only solution was to punish the wrongdoers. Fifteen years later, the orator Andocides had to defend himself in court against accusations that he had been involved.

This history explains that individuals might escape divine punishment, but ignoring omens and failing to take precautions were often communal rather than individual problems. Andocides was acquitted, but his trial shows that when someone’s actions put everyone at risk, it was a community’s responsibility to hold them accountable.

Oracles and knuckle bones are not in vogue today, but the ancient Greeks show us the very real dangers of risky behavior, and why it is important that risk not be left to a simple toss of the dice.

Joshua P. Nudell, Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics, Westminster College

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Envy: Destroyer of self worth


We all at one point or another fell prey to Envy, counting the blessings of our neighbor instead of counting our own. Be it at work, at home or in our social circle there is always someone who has more or better than we do.

To be honest, I think Envy can not be totally removed from human nature, but it can be put in check as soon as it comes out to play. I think it’s instinctive to see what someone else has that brings them the appearance of happiness and to want it for ourselves, that is not so much the issue as when we think we should take it from them to obtain it instead of working to achieve and obtain it on our own.

In the Workplace

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Being I’ve been around for over a 1/2 century, I have experienced Envy in the workplace from both ends of its pointy stick. I suffered from it a few times in my earlier years of life. Watching some people just seem to get all the breaks and promotions, get higher wages than me or get to goof off all day while I worked.

At least that was how I perceived it when i experienced it, and I spent too much time worrying over those other people instead of doing my job better. Now that I’ve matured, I have learned to focus on what I am doing and not worry what others are doing.

unless I am in a supervisor position, and even then I only pay attenuation to what i am required to in that role. I guess part of it is that i have learned to be happy with what I have been blessed with now, instead of worrying about what other people are blessed with.

The Social Circle

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Ok, This is one place I Suffered Envy the most I think, especially in my teenage years. Being I was just an average run of the mill guy, no athletic skills and a unfortunate low self esteem, I was one of those barely noticed or remembered guys from your high school days.

Envy filled my veins when it came to the cool kids, the ladies men and the geniuses around me. Always wanting what was theirs instead of seeing i had plenty i was not aware of or using at that time.

Hind sight is 20/20 as they say, so much i missed out on due to my poor self image and lack of confidence. Only if we could go back and do it again with what we know now eh? lol.

The Family Unit

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Another Weak spot for me when I was young, I had a older brother, so i was the younger brother. I always felt like I was less than him since he had 3 years on me. I envied his popularity, his luck with the ladies and his independent spirit. He could be a bit of a smarty pants and a bully at times too (the 2 things I didn’t want to emulate).

Of course as i hit my later teens I didn’t envy him as much as I disliked his attitude towards me, but that’s siblings for you. Mind you now I look back and think how stupid I was for wanting to be more like him instead of being more like me 🙂


Conclusion:

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Through years of both experiencing and observing Envy in its many flavors it comes in, I have watched it ruin peoples lives when they let it take root for too long. Watched people lose careers, their friends and even.

Best to count your own blessings than to worry about the blessings of others. Focus on making your own life better than desiring the life of someone else. The grass may look greener in your neighbors yard, but sometimes if you look closely it is mainly crabgrass.

Envy and its sister jealousy are both destroyers of happiness and are detrimental to your emotional and mental well being.

Be Good to one another, and be thankful for what you have been blessed with

Raymond Barbier

Random Thoughts 6/02/2021


What we see in the news, online and sometimes in print is nothing more than opinions , truths shrouded with distortions to keep people sidetracked, entertained and in some cases divided. Feeding fear, radicalization of ideals and politicization of what normally would not be political. What once was the Watchdogs of the Government now serve one political agenda or another. This is especially true when it comes to Cable news networks and so called Internet news media as well. The traditional local channel news is not quite as political and agenda motivated as the rest. News now is a money maker, a way to sway the people to believe or follow a political direction as well as a way to keep people divided and unable to think for themselves.

In small doses I don’t think watching any news channel is bad, but if you stay focused watching it all day you get hooked on the hype and underlying messages being pushed. During the early months of the pandemic I found myself glued to one of the Cable network News channels, It only caused me to be full of fear and heavily swayed my view on politics during that time, I chose to walk away from watching any news for a period and once i took my break and went back to watching the same new network i could see how it was politically motivated and divisionary. I also watched the news networks with opposing views and see they were doing the same thing. We need Factual news , not opinion based and politically motivated / biased commentaries. News with integrity and proven sources with little to no opinion attached.

In this trying times we are living in, we need more unity and less separation and polarization of the people, including the government. Time to put aside our differences, pull together and do what is right for the people in general and the nation in whole. Time to turn off the tv, get out and help our brothers and sisters in this world as well. In the end does not matter if one is conservative or liberal, poor or rich. We all are humans, we all are important. Every cog and sprocket of the machine of life is needed to make it work.

Random Thoughts 7/29/2019


The world is heading down a dark and uncertain road, seems hate and fear is growing. There is so much misinformation and false news on the internet pushing the agenda of hate and division. Between the circus we call politics and the loss of integrity we are seeing in many places in business and also governments it leaves many people feeling like there is little to no hope.

You can not rely on the government or big business to do what is needed to make a better world, they can not change the world without having the power we the people give to them. Change is all in our hands, it is our choice if we love, fear , hate, understand and where the future of humanity will head.  The fate of our society is in our hand, our society can only be fixed by us.

No life is lesser or greater than another, all life is precious and each person is important. We need to stop labeling each other, we can not judge a group by the few that may have some problems. We all need to be accountable for our actions, think before we say or act. Don’t do or say anything you wouldn’t be proud of or that would be considered hurtful.

Mostly I believe people are angry that life is not always fair, most of the time life can be very unfair and cruel. Being hateful or fearful will not make life any better and surely won’t help you or anyone else in the end.  Speak out against hate and fear, put out love and understanding and seek the most peaceful and kindest way of resolving the situation before you.

I think every one of us at one point in our life has been on the wrong end of some sort of hate, be it that we were being bullied, discriminated against for one reason or another. We need to remember how it felt on the receiving end of such, so we can remind ourselves to not treat others in such a manner.

I know compassion, love and kindness are not quite popular in society, so many times those that are kind and compassionate are looked upon as weak. I think it takes someone very strong and determined to love and show compassion in a world where fear and hate seem to be the norm.

Whatever path you choose in your life is up to you and I hope you choose one of peace and love.

 

Blessings to all

Ray Barbier

Random Thoughts Jan 27th 2019


Time is something as humans we have a very limited amount of, no guarantee we have any set length of time to enjoy and be a part of this wonderous thing called life. In my lifetime I have noticed how I have tended to focus on myself, my views of the world and paid less attention to those in my life that either had heavy influence on me and my life or those that had some impact on my journey through it. Of course as I aged I learned that it is not only about me, I am not the center of the universe nor am I going to be the center of attention most of the time.

Many of the things I may had found to be important, prominent in my way of thinking and being through the years either were dropped or evolved along the way. Over thinking every situation was one of my faults in my character, it usually lead to either seeing the doom filled or negative possibilities of what may lay ahead or it kept me from taking chances in life that could had led me down a more prosperous path. In time I had come to the conclusion that over thinking most things in life was more of a pitfall than a blessing.

Sometimes my tendency to over think things may had saved me from some bad things in my life, so I now try to listen to my thoughts but weigh out the possibilities I may be looking too hard at the negatives and not hard enough at the positive possibilities. Plus I also realize many times I am completely wrong in some of my thoughts and assumptions. Thinking is a good thing, as long as you have all the facts and your wise enough to has out the details with others such as friends and family so you can get alternate takes and views on the subject. To only go on that which you feel and think usually leads to many problems down the line because no one man or woman has all the answers and information to be able to do such.

We as humans are geared to be social, we do out best work as a group and achieve the most through co-operation. When we lose our sense of community, Family and the spirit of co-operation, we lose what makes humanity the unique and most creative species on this small blue planet we call earth. When we allow The I to become more important than the well-being and progress of the community and human race is when we set ourselves up as a species only to fail and possible even invite our extinction.

Friendship, Family, Community and co-operation are the most important and valuable things we have as humans Throw them away and we throw away the bright future we can achieve. We Humans are the caretakers of this world and all the species that live here including our own. Once we get beyond The I, me and myself syndrome we have so much potential as individuals and unlimited possibilities as a species if we learn to co-operate and work together for the benefit for all things great and small.

Random Thoughts Nov 12th 2018


When you become Self-centered, self-absorbed and focused only on yourself, you only close out all the love and happiness that sharing and caring for others can bring. Humans are inherently social creatures and when the focus is on the family, community and the well-being of all living creatures we shine brightly as a species. Humans have the capacity to both destroy or nurture the world around them.

Too many people allow greed, self-gratification, and lust to be their high priority and leave little time or thought about the well-being of others. Possessions can and will eventually be lost, Lust is short-lived and self=gratification is usually a temporary fix for the feelings of loss and loneliness.  They serve only the self, and in the end are far more destructive than helpful.

Helping others is a way of helping the whole of humanity and even yourself, what helps the community usually comes around to help the individual. Even in times where no benefit can be found in helping others, you at least get a sense of happiness from seeing the other person doing well. Compassion, Love, and understanding are not signs of weakness, they are signs of an inner strength.

Which way and how you live your life is your choice alone, how you are thought of and remembered when your time is up on this blue planet will be the result of such. To me, I don’t see how all the money, possessions and temporary pleasures will serve me in the end. If there is an afterlife, all the money and possessions will be useless in the afterlife and those whom you helped will be there remembering your kindness.

In the end, I know we all will have some greed, self-centeredness, and lusts. The priority we give them is the thing we must focus on. We all are in this life together, we all ride on the same blue marble through space and time. So we Should be there for one another and make the ride the most enjoyable and happy one we can.

Random Thoughts 9-4-2017


In my life I have observed how easy it is to think from your personal perspective and be unaware of the total view of what is going on around myself. To be concerned for yourself and not interested in what other people are feeling, going through and how I may be actually affecting them. The thing is, this is quite common in humanity, the self preservation and self interest mentality. Even some of the most humble and compassionate people I have met fall prey to this mentality.

Most People are not totally self absorbed or selfish, but they do have times in which that side of them likes to rear its head.  Somewhere in life we all lost touch with the community or family mindset and fell to the me, myself and I way of thinking.  I do believe we need a small amount of that mindset, but our main way of thinking should be geared towards serving the family and community.  We need the uniqueness of separate identity but we also need the enriching experience of being a part of the whole.

The diversity within our species is a blessing we seem to take as a curse, we can not as a community except that which is different from what we believe or have experienced. This is one of the greatest problems we face in modern times. When will we get over the elitism, separatism, bigotry and vengeful side of our minds and hearts? When will we see we need the differences and diversity to survive and thrive, when will we see we need one another to make this world work?

The simple truth is we all are basically the same, the majority of us want a better future for ourselves and our children. Sure there is religious differences and cultural ones as well, but does that mean you must destroy or suppress that which is different from your own? We can all get along and except the different beliefs and opinions between us all if we wanted to. I do not know if its pride, fear or just lack of compassion that stops humanity from coming together and learning to be tolerant of each other.

Regardless of why, the fact remains we can not change the world if we do not change ourselves first. It is one of those things that starts from you and spreads outward as time goes. The choices you make, the words and actions you chose to say or do is what defines you in this world. It is what shapes your world and influences those around you. So be mindful of your actions and words, Have self respect and respect for all living creatures. Have compassion for others as you may one day need it in return. Life is what you put into it and make it .

Blessings

Raymond Barbier.

 

The Future of The Internet Radio Hobbyist


This year there has a been a twist in the Pro’s and Internet Radio Broadcasters  story. The once Reliable and Affordable Licensing company named Stream Licensing stopped paying ASCAP and there has been talk of them not reporting info to other PROs such as B.M.I.and Sound exchange. They claim the ASCAP issue is due to overpayment and they stopped paying them due to such, to me this is irresponsible and is a disservice to the clients they represent.  They are Doing some nice dodging and weaving through emails promising things that are not realistic such as buying a radio station which they owned for some time prior and that is not licensed and talking about  ownership options etc.

I have read a post stating a former SL client filing complaints to the Law officials in Florida and some complaints possibly going to the FCC as well about the situation. Do I think Streamlicensing.com part of Stardom Media is being fraudulent? I can not tell you since there is always more to the story than you can find. But I do find it quite unethical to not pay the ASCAP fees and not let us know when they began doing so, they waited almost 6 to 8 months before notifying us and it was mainly due to ASCAP sending out emails.

Ok That said at the moment I would suggest avoiding SL until they get their records and licensing in order. This only leaves most of us hobbyists with a few options, paying ascap directly and forking out 200+ dollars.(outside of my budget) Moving to live365.com and be very restricted far as how you can listen to the music (all web based no direct link for Media Players etc.) and pay about the same amount and have to go with their broadcast servers, Radionomy which is a pain to keep going and you must meet quotas to keep the station up along with they are only web based or app. based in the USA. Then the next to last option of playing only Creative Commons Music, which I love but it limits what listener base  you will receive.

The only 2 options left are Closing down the Station or go through the painstaking process of contacting each record company, artists etc. to get a waiver to play their music. Their may be many artists who would sign waivers to keep their exposure up via the internet streaming since mainstream radio stations don’t play them often since they are not the popular bands or of the popular genres.

The thing is I went legal out of my desire to not only be legit but to support those artists, songwriters etc. they do deserve money for their works, but the amount that we must pay in internet streaming is quite high, and since advertisers are not too willing to support internet streams unless they are owned by some big media corp. etc. it makes it hard to even make any revenue to offset the cost of playing the music we all love.

I think one thing that really makes me mad is how many PRO’s there is and how complicated it is to get covered and to be legal, you would think that they would get together and form a one stop  shop for licensing and make it affordable and a monthly payment.  They would have more on board being legal for one thing and they wouldn’t have issues like they are at the moment with such places like Stream Licensing.

Now I Call out for Artists, Songwriters, Composers and Record companies to get into the game and try to find a solution that can help the broadcasters within the new media category become the new way to get artists exposure and raise capitol along with making it an affordable venture for the small broadcasters. There must be some way all the PRO’s and those associated with the Music industry can work together and find a way to make it good for all of us involved.

I really Hope Stream Licensing gets their act together and do what is right by their clients, after this month I may just move on to live365, play Creative Commons Licensed music  or  Even kill the station . Sad But its a Fact of life when your just a guppy in a ocean of sharks and whales I guess.

Feel free to leave comments on the Stream Licensing situation as well as the options out there for the little guppy broadcasters 😀

God Bless

Raymond Barbier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Random Thoughts 6-30-2017


The world we live in is a world of division, separation and is built around the belief one person, ideal, religion or political system is superior to another. We allow so much to separate us from each other, so much to obstruct human kind from becoming the wondrous creatures we could be. There are some in this world that do not care if everyone else believes as they do be it religious ,political or just in general. The differences between all of us could make us stronger and a unstoppable force. But unfortunately we don’t seem to be able to get beyond the fear and hate. We allow our differences to separate us and destroy the harmony and peace that could be ours. 

Imagine if you will a world where regardless of nationality, religion, beliefs and or social status we all get along and work together. Could you imagine the things as a untied species we could achieve. All the money put into the war machine could be focused on finding cures for diseases, renewable energies and even space exploration. We could find solutions to the problems we face in our time if we could pull together and work towards that goal.

To be honest it is some what disappointing that as civilized as we became as a species we still harbor such feelings as envy, hate and fear so abundantly and frequently. We should find the strength to put aside such feelings and put aside our differences as well for the good of all humanity and life on this planet.

Until we outgrow such things as greed, fear,envy and the lust for power as a species we will remain on this path that leads to the eventual extinction of humanity. Those feelings and desires will probably always plague our hearts and minds but we are capable of controlling and restraining such emotions and desires if we choose to do so. 

Humanity has such great potential, it has been shown through our ingenuity throughout the ages. If we learn to overcome the obstacles that keeps us separated , we can achieve the unbelievable and unthinkable.

 

The future belongs to everybody regardless if they be great or small in the eyes of society. What truly defines a person is their words and actions in life, not the opinions of others.

Raymond Barbier

Random thoughts 6-12-2017


Life is full of ups and downs, we all know this and experience such on a daily basis.  Sometimes we allow the downs to be the focus of our thoughts. When we do such we give the downside of life to take control of our emotions and guide our actions. By doing such we tend to get stuck in a defensive posture and in a negative mindset.  We react to the situation we are experiencing instead of being proactive and constructively active in life.  If one get stuck in the reactionary and defensive mindset they slip in to the oppressed and depressed emotional state that just amplifies the negative situation.

Sure we have bad days and lows in our life, its part of life and without them we could not see how fortunate we are when the good times come.  Focusing only on those bad times only brings one grief and it influences your attitude which plays a big part in your total emotional happiness and well being.  I personally do not believe that one can always be happy or have a life full of only good days, but I do believe one can negate most of the bad days and negative effects they bring to one emotionally and physically.

If a Bad day comes, embrace it and let it follow its course until it ends. Then let it go , move forward only remembering any lessons learned and leave the negative emotions behind. Start the next day fresh with no thought or care of what happened the day before. For each morning we wake is yet another chance at life and happiness. Forgiveness is one key to such happiness and freedom from the pain and guilt from bad days. Forgiving not only those people that has done you wrong but also forgiveness for yourself and for the mistakes you made.

Enjoy the good days you have with all your heart and enjoy the blessing of the people that you have been given to enjoy those days with. Love each person for who and what they are as well as your own self. Do not allow hate, fear or indifference be roadblocks to happiness and harmony with the world around you.  Put all your thoughts and energy into the positive and happy things of life not into the negative  or destructive. 

There is many paths to peace and happiness, and not every path is meant for every person who walks them. Seek out that which brings you happiness and follow that path as long as it does not cause harm to yourself or others.