Lately I’ve been reflecting upon the Roman age of the gladiators and the unfortunate parallels now playing out in our society. Have we not evolved from our ancestors whose bloodsport sent many to their deaths? The similarities are eerily distasteful.
In Roman times, spectators filled coliseums to cheer on those who fought to the death. Thousands perished while the audience gleefully watched. The same games are being played out today where coliseums are replaced by virtual space and gladiators are public officials. Those on the political left and right take sides and celebrate the demise of anyone they don’t agree with. While the fight played out in the news may not be for the literal death of opponents, the roots of bloodsport still run deep. Hardly a day passes that someone isn’t cheering wildly for the personal destruction of someone whose perspective differs from their own.
Whether you wish for the death of someone or the destruction of their lives, you are no different than the spectators in the stadium centuries ago. The thirst for blood – literally or figuratively – is the same. Gladiators in the arena are now public figures (and their supporters) fighting it out on the world stage. Some stand cheering for the death of one while others cheer for the other. It’s disgusting to watch how commentators and citizens alike relish each blow as if the opponent’s death is imminent. We clearly have learned nothing from our ancestors.
In a more contemporary context, look no further than the drama of the Hunger Games. The citizens of the capital watched the games unfold with blood dripping from their lips as each cannon heralded the death of yet another participant. The game makers relished each approaching death ready to sound the cannon. It’s like many in the news today waiting eagerly to push the button as one politician or another meets their bloody end.
You can see the game played out on a daily basis. Lines have been drawn, contestants are on the field, and the hungry spectators anxiously wait for the next person to be killed. How can we say we have evolved into a loving society when people are fixated on such a perverse spectacle? How can people profess to be loving and compassionate when they sit in front of the TV or click wildly through social media celebrating each blow on the opposing side? This is not the spirit of awakening or the mark of an evolved society. Anyone who can wish another ill no matter how you perceive them is adding to the blood running figuratively in the streets. Don’t try to convince me you’re all about love when in the next breath you hope to see your opponent’s ruin.
I personally do not care for many of the policies or positions of either side. The professional gladiators of today are no heroes in my book. Instead, they battle in the arena to draw attention only to themselves. They fight only for the entertainment of their constituents and not the good of society. The battle continues only as long as there are spectators participating and cheering at the spectacle in the arena. When we choose to forward such stories or even comment on them, we add to the carnage and have blood on our hands.
Instead, choose only to send love. I feel sorry both for those who have voluntarily entered the arena and for supporters on both sides. If we hope to address the challenges in our society, we must stop killing each other through our words and actions. Stop feeding the game by stopping yourself from participating in it. Instead bring a spirit of love and empathy. This doesn’t mean no longer caring. But in our society, we have more civil and respectful ways of making our voices heard. The choice is simple. You can be part of the capital crowd celebrating yet another death in the arena, or you can choose to turn your back on the bloodsport and become a positive and loving part of the solution.
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