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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Supreme Power: When To Use It, When To Give It Up.

This past week has been very interesting. One of my teachers shared with me the story of Cincinnatus.

Cincinnatus was a Roman in the early days of the Empire. During a time of great threat the Roman Senate gave Cincinnatus dictatorial powers to save Rome.

Cincinnatus took these powers, and quelled the invading armies.

This process took 16 days, after which Cincinnatus gave up his powers and returned to his farm.

Rome called on Cincinnatus again many years later and he did the same thing. He was granted supreme power, he used it, he gave it back, he went back to his farm.

My teacher compared Cincinnatus to George Washington.

Washington, you may recall, was given supreme power to beat the British. Once that war was over, Washington had the opportunity and the support to become King of America.

He didn't take it. He became the first president but he didn't take the opportunity to become or to stay the supreme ruler.

Why did he do that? Why didn't Cincinnatus keep his power?

Allow that question to marinate for a while as I tell you about the rest of my week. Last Friday my 6month old daughter fell off the bed. She bumped her head. She never lost consciousness, her behavior never changed, but to be safe we took her to the hospital.

The doctors told us she was fine. The next day we took her to her pediatrician both doctors at that office said she was fine.

Yesterday we noticed that the bump on her head had grown. We called the pediatrician and the pediatrician advised us to go back to the hospital.

At the hospital they gave her a CAT scan. Three different doctors to include two neurosurgeons look at the imagery from the CAT scan. One doctor said there might be a hairline fracture, the two neurosurgeons said that they didn't see that fracture and that what was there was just a groove for a blood vessel.

The doctors then explained that what we were experiencing was a gray area in medicine. Because of our technological capabilities we have the ability to see things we couldn't see before. Because this is the case it's always better to be safe than sorry.

I've been thinking about this a lot, because it seems to me that, better safe than sorry, is a slippery slope.

This has me thinking about the cold war, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

I've been to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and studied Truman's decision to drop the atomic bomb.

Fundamental to Truman's decision to drop the bomb was the notion that a mainland assault on Japan would have caused the death of one million Americans.

Fundamental to my wife and I's decision to allow our daughter to receive a CAT scan was the notion that the bump on her head could be life-threatening.

Truman dropped the bomb, war won. We got the CAT scan, daughter A-OK.

Just so you know, I don't write these blog posts from the perspective of a complete idea. I write to examine an idea.

That said, as I'm writing this I see a correlation between Cincinnatus, Washington, Truman, and my family.

Power is one thing, but the notion that you actually have it or can keep it, is another thing entirely.

We are still on the slippery slope created by our attempts to harness the supreme power of nuclear weapons.

Yes, the power of atom has created undeniable opportunities and growth and evolution.

I guess the question I'm asking, is whether or not all that growth originated from fear?

Is that a bad thing, the Roman Senate gave Cincinnatus supreme power for fear of the demise of Rome.

I guess I'm just wondering about the mindset of Cincinnatus and Washington. Fear was how they got their power, weren't they afraid to give it up?

What did they give it up to?

Or how about the fact that both Rome and America thrived after these individuals gave up supreme power over each?

My wife and I have supreme power over our daughter.

My hope is that we do a good job knowing when to use it and went to give it up.


This post was guided by the 100th stanza of the Art of Peace, a book written by Morihei Ueshiba

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This bill will

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Mindful Memorial Day is coming in May.

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