In the Roman Empire, it was bread, chariot races and gladiatorial games that filled the belly and distracted the mind, allowing emperors to rule as they saw fit.
The notion is particularly apropos today, Super bowl Sunday. The culmination of a season of NFL contests that more and more resemble gladiatorial combat—just look at the lifelong injuries if you doubt that. We have NASCAR, the modern chariot races, with death and dismemberment as spectacular penalties, cable and satellite TV with 300 plus channels, mega-lotteries, offering the tantalizing hope of becoming millionaires, at odds worse than being hit by lightning. Supermarkets crammed full of junk food, filled with sugar---six times more addictive than cocaine—and salt, and chemicals designed to tickle the taste buds and distract consumers from the reality of what they are putting into their bodies.
Please note, I am not opposed per se to football. Nor NASCAR. Nor lotteries. Nor TV. Nor junk food. I am opposed to what they are used for by today's emperors-- politicians and the power-elite. Diversion, distraction, satisfaction of the immediate, shallowest desires of a population, as a way to keep them ignorant, complacent, and slaves to debt while those politicians and powerful persons continue to rob them of their money, health, intellect, and moral backbone. To make them no longer care about the historical birthright of the human race-----to grow wiser, stronger, more loving, more inclusive, more—dare we say it?—godlike in our imitation of greater beings we claim to exist and care for us.
So, while you’re watching the Super bowl spectacle, picking up a six-pack, Cheetos, and a mega-lottery ticket—or not—take a moment to wonder----does this resemble the decline of the Roman Republic? Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.