Have you ever watched the Gladiator with Russell Crowe playing the part of Maximus? The Roman citizens and leadership do not realize who he is, one of their own left for dead by the new Emperor, he survived and was enlisted as a gladiator. He was finally brought to Rome to take part in the Gladiator fights and when he finally reveals himself the place erupts because of his success in the fights, “Maximus, Maximus, Maximus”. The Collosseum filled with the citizens of Rome cheering on the brutal entertainment the leaders of Rome are providing for them.
The colosseum was built for several reasons, to demonstrate the power and glory of Rome, an attempt to unify Rome and prevent a civil war. According to Roman life it was also “intended for entertaining and, possibly more importantly, distracting Rome’s population from more serious issues of the time such as oligarchy, nepotism and corruption in the senate.” The Collosseum was built to distract the citizens of the severe issues prancing around in the background which led to its distruction. As I survey the current landscape of the American political process, it seems to be we are reinventing the Roman Collosseum and as citizens we are eating up the entertainment.
The Colosseum As A Venue For Entertainment
In Rome the Gladiator fights were brutal, they fought to the death. Let’s face it, the fights were rarely, if ever, fair. It was more like a fixed WWE match, with a fixed winner. The goal was entertained citizens, so if the citizens were entertained it didn’t matter if it was fair or not.
As the presidential debates have progressed through America they are done in a 21st century Colosseum, television and internet mediums. They are viewed by us, the masses, like a sporting event, there is a pre-game and post-game given to us by our unbiased (wink wink) media outlets. Providing for us thoughts and opinions of what we will see or what we have just witnessed.
As I have looked upon these debates, rarely, if ever, have we ever come away with any substantance, it has resembled more of a sophisticated gladiatorial fight on whose ego is bigger to be the president. We rarely delve into the policies of each candidate and how they plan to “make America great again”. Instead we here about the size of a man’s hands and what that means, which seems to be something out of SNL than a presidential election. Or we read about a presidential candidate who says “excuse me I am talking” and why that makes him sexist. After these debates we are encouraged to participate in polls and cheer on who we think won. As the results are revealed, it seems to me, we cheer on who we thought was more entertaining, not who was the most presidential. In the distance I can here Maximus proclaiming “Are you not entertained?”
The Colosseum As A Venue For Distraction
The gladiatorial fights were also intended to distract Rome from the serious issues of their day. They wanted their citizens to be mesmerized by the games that they could not see the serious issues facing Rome. This election cycle, we seemed to be mesmerized by the process, debates, political banter, and the media that the serious issues facing us as a country have become a side note.
We are certainly distracted citizens. In Rome it was the political leaders who desired distracted citizens, in America, I am not prepared to say our leadership, as a whole desire a distracted electorate, but it appears some may. We must also place some blame on the 24 hour news outlets. I mean they need to find some way to fill 24 hours, what better than a presidential candidate talking about his hands and what that means or another being sexist, compared to their tax plans or other policies. What topic is going to get eye balls, ratings. Which topic is going to fill the colosseum?
The ultimate blame for a distracted electorate falls on us as citizens. In America the office of citizen is crucial, we select our leaders and the policies they implement. As citizens we elect those we want to represent us, but if we are distracted, led by the puppet strings we are presented with, we have ourselves to blame for why America is in the condition we find ourselves. We need to, as Americans, take up the mantle of citizenship with seriousness and spend some time to discover the worldview and governing policies of those we elect. It is time we stop forfeiting our rights as citizens by not voting, voting blindly, or voting distractedly.
Until Next Time
Soli Deo Gloria