“…your whole way of life is out of date when compared with theirs. And it is just as true in politics as it is in any art or craft: new methods must drive out old ones…” – Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War (Corinthians speaking to Spartans, about Athenians, trying to convince them to go to war with the Athenians, in 432 B.C.)
The first line might have come from the lips of my children, as they compare their parents’ ideals to the world around us.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be so hard that one’s way of life–or ideal–is out of date, if it didn’t seem that it’s also being driven out. Can’t our way of life, we wonder, at least still exist next to contemporary ways?
It is interesting that we think of our culture as unusually diverse, and as intentionally accepting of differences—even notable ones—between various ways of life. This is part of the self-understanding of our culture.
Perhaps I’m missing something. But it seems the reality is that our age is monolithically unfriendly to ways of living other than the standard. And ironically perhaps especially unfriendly to ways of living that were common in our own not so distant past.
Here is one example. Some humans grow up and live in a community where they really know and are known by their neighbors. They have a sense of coming from and belonging to a specific place and community. Not only residing there, they work there. They make a living and forge a common life, even across generations, with a relatively stable group of people, on a scale suited to mutual knowledge and accountability. This was once the norm, and theoretically people could still live in such a way.
But by and large today, we can’t. Such a life is not really an option for the vast majority of people. I suppose we can say it is out of date.
It’s value, however, will never be out of date. So if I’m told that thinking about what isn’t feasible is a waste of time, I have a response. Keeping certain thoughts alive might just be the ground in which old realities sprout into new possibilities. Even if just for our children.
Thucydides (460-395 B.C.) was a great Athenian historian and general.
Join the Community.
Become a LifeCraft Member and gain access to our online courses and exclusive content. It's FREE of charge. Period.
If you join as a contributing member, you will help make this content available to an increasing audience and enable me to spend more time in this work. I thank you in advance.
Join the LifeCraft community today and get access to:
- Man of the Household (Course)
- Woman of the Household (Course)
- Concepts Made Clear (Mini-course)
- Dinner at Home (Mini-course)
“We must also remember that no metamorphosis since pre-historic times is in any way comparable to the metamorphosis that we are now undergoing.” “[Man is] a creature which is not only capable of gratuitous acts but of which it can be said that such acts are this...
“The beloved is said to be in the lover… [even] in the absence of the beloved, because of the lover’s longing towards…the good he wills to the beloved with a love of friendship.” Thomas Aquinas One thing my marriage has taught me is that really ‘being-present’ to...
“And if someone dragged him away from there by force, up the rough, steep path, and didn’t let him go until he had dragged him into the sunlight, wouldn’t he be pained and irritated at being treated that way?” Socrates, Plato’s Republic We seldom reflect on a stark...
Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. LifeCraft springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.