The Slender Tree

You are still and will always be my friend. That settled, I want to add something to my previous letter, an essay which happens to be done already for my writing pursuits. It deals with what is happening in America and how it can be changed.

Picture for a moment a slender tree standing against the wind as it tries to grow up right It, It, that tree, is the human being, with nascent powers for truth, good, and reason. But the wind is preventing it from developing as it should. You will find that tree in the classic period and thought of men like Aristotle, Socrates, Pericles**,          to mention a few.

Thomas Jefferson, in framing the Constitution, kept asking John Adams time and time again: “Have you read Thucydides?” In History of the Peloponsesian War, Thucydides has a speech by Pericles in which Pericles defines Freedom, Democracy, and Man, the kind our Founding Fathers wanted to have.   Ben Franklin used to pull the shades down in his study and read the Greeks. Here are some excerpts from Pericles’ speech.

  “We cultivate refinement without extravagance and knowledge without effeminacy.”

“Our Constitution favors the many. That is why it is called a Democracy.”

“We are tough because we choose to be tough. But we are also gentle.”

I am aware of what the news media are saying.  But I think, in my own small way, I can see and admire the slender tree standing against the fury of the wind. It is our nature as humans.  What we must do is to salvage that nature by properly educating the young to think, to enhance that nascent being.

With Sophism as prevalent as it happens to be at present, it becomes a Herculean task to see what is true and what is false.  Sophism, as I mentioned before, is the philosophy that Truth is a matter of opinion and can be shaped through rhetoric. A standard is needed to compare against. And there is one. Socrates called it, “know thyself.”  It should be the education which the young get in their formative years.

Nature has the power over us and directs us. But we can see also the beauty which our instinctive powers create. It is the strength that we have against the wind of deceit and corruption.

Anastasios Aslanis

Letter to a friend

Lansing, Feb. 21, 2013

** Pericles: Athenian Statesman in 5th century BC

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Posted by on March 23, 2013 in ByAuthor



January 18, 2013

The Founding Fathers envisioned a democracy in which the power rested with the people. The growth of material wealth, however, in the past and particularly in the 20th century, shifted this power to large corporations and a wealthy few. Jefferson feared this and brought Irenée Dupont from France to make sure that industry consists of small shops. What resulted was not the democracy which the Founding Fathers had envisioned, but a ruthless economic dictatorship.

An attempt for restoring power to the people was made by President John F. Kennedy, cut short, unfortunately, by his death. Significant was the absence of truth hidden by the luster of material affluence. In the lonely moments of privacy at home, the truth was felt, but confined in the atmosphere of dream and hope.
What I have seen, at last, is an awakening, timid but real, of the individual’s responsibility in what exists and what should be. This awakening is irreversible and genuine, due to better communication with the rest of the world and more and more people are demanding recognition for who they are. It took a leader, President Obama, to show them that they need not be afraid to be free. What is coming into being is a society- something which did not exist before- and wealth alone can no longer control the individual will for self-expression.

The obstacle, which remains still, is this philosophy of Sophism: Truth is a matter of opinion and can be shaped through rhetoric. But as people become more and better educated, Sophism will lose its disguise and become visible to what it is: the art of imposters.

The political system of checks and balances, set-up by the Founding Fathers, protects against violent change but does not restrict gradual transformation. We are at the stage now when a gradual change is taking hold as more and more people are able to judge those in business and government, the aristocrats of the past so-to-speak. It is a Renaissance taking place.

All this is good. Human nature, in its deepest hollows, asserts itself. The stem may rot at times, but the roots sprout up again with a new and healthy shoot.

Anastasios Aslanis

Letter to a friend
January 2013, Lansing NY

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Posted by on March 19, 2013 in ByAuthor