Are we to believe that just because Shakespeare wrote a play about him there wasn’t really a king who ruled England in the late 15th and early 16th century who cut off the heads of two of his wives and who sent more than 70,000 people off to the Tower of London to be imprisoned and executed because he felt they had wronged or disrespected him?
Well there was, and his name was Henry VIII.
Are we to believe that just because Dylan wrote a song referencing a guy “and his brother, Don” who “Could not keep on keeping on,” that there wasn’t really a mad Mongolian emperor who poured molten silver into the eyes and ears of his enemies, who flattened crops, leveled cities, hacked to death everything in sight and wiped out a third of the population of northern China?
Well, there was, and his name was Genghis Khan.
And what about the subject of that movie produced by the publisher of Penthouse Magazine, the one starring all those great actors, like Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, Peter O’Toole and John Gielgud. Are we to think that just because it was a pornographic film that showed Penthouse Pets in unsimulated sex scenes that there wasn’t really a Roman emperor who falsely accused people of crimes and then had them killed in order to obtain their estates, who forced parents to watch their children’s executions, and who required the citizens of the republic to worship him and build temples in his honor?
Well, there was such an emperor, and his name was Caligula.
Each of these tyrant leaders existed in real life. I don’t know about you but I find comfort in that, because I think we have crooked, dishonest, unethical people in the government and other positions of power right now, but I’m not sure they quite rise to the level of evil as, say, “Vlad the Impaler,” Joseph Stalin or Adolph Hitler, so I think, well, we’ve survived worse.
Then again, none of those empires, kingdoms and dynasties exist anymore, so I guess it’s not entirely unreasonable to be concerned about the continuance, and by the same token the ceasing of our country, our culture and our way of life.
It’s not like it’s never happened before to other countries, states or empires that had accumulated great wealth and power and were around for a lot longer than the United States of America.
Still, the idea, and the hope here, is that if we could survive the worst things and the worst people in the history of the world, we can survive this. The takeaway lesson being, life goes on, the world goes on, we go on.
Of course, none of those past events involved the existential threat of climate change — except for the various Ice Ages and super-volcanoes that caused mass extinctions and wiped out huge populations — but that’s another topic, for another day and another discussion.
Ron Colone can be reached at email@example.com
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