While his adoptive great uncle Claudius, who he succeeded, built many new roads, aqueducts and canals Nero, whose interests leaned more toward the cultural life of the Empire, had theatres built and promoted athletic games. Known for his extravagance, and also as a tyrant, he was responsible for many executions, including his mother’s (so much for the notion that blood is thicker than water). And on June 9, 68, amid rumours of his impending assassination, he became the first Roman Emperor to commit suicide.
History lessons aside, my real reason for bringing him up, is a story (or rumour, as Tacitus insisted) that goes something like this: While the great fire of Rome burned for six days, Nero was off, playing his fiddle. Which, in itself, is technically incorrect. Apparently there were no fiddles in first century Rome. He would have been playing the lyre. But never mind. The point is, he was doing something else while the Empire, over which he ruled, was being destroyed.
He was distracted. He wasn’t paying attention. He wasn’t focussed on what he should have been focussed on.
Sadly, this makes me think of the 2012 Presidential race. While the candidates, and the parties, are slinging mud at each other, the United States is in one hell of a mess! And with all this nonsense going on, how is anyone supposed to decide which candidate is better qualified to get the country on the right track again.
If I were an American, with less than 2 months until the election, I think I’d be ready to start a ‘movement’. I’m serious. I’d be writing up a Manifesto. Letting all the politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, know that I’d had enough. Telling them, in no uncertain terms, that from here on in, all I’d be interested in knowing is what they are going to do about fixing our problems. Not rhetoric. Facts. An action plan. One that is doable. One that has check points along the way. Not interested in their opinion of their opponent. Forget about what hasn’t been done. Focus on what has to be done.
I’d put my Manifesto on Facebook and Twitter. On LinkedIn and everywhere else it could go viral. I’d send it to every newspaper, magazine and radio and TV station in the land. I’d put it in my neighbours’ mailboxes. I’d pin it on ‘community’ boards in grocery stores, and churches, and synagogues, and day care centres and everywhere else I could think of.
There is a crisis going on in the United States (in the world, for that matter, but the whole world doesn’t have a critically-important election coming up). And right now the priority should be the country, and its future. Not name calling.