Beware the Ides of March

2019-03-15 15:37
Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar

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Two thousand and sixty-three years ago, a god died.

He conquered modern day France with his friends by his side. He broke the Roman Republic with his friends by his side. He butchered his enemies and made himself dictator for life. He named a month after himself. He wore the robes of a king.

On this day, the Ides of March, history turned. Julius Caesar, the man who had made himself a god, walked into the senate house, with his friends by his side. He sat in the consul’s chair with his friends by his side. His friends killed him there on the senate floor. As he bled from 23 stab wounds, they stood by his side.

Sic Semper Tyrannis

Thus, Always to Tyrants 

Today marks the death of Julius Caesar. Today marks a lesson for all time. Caesar’s death is an example of what power has in store for those among us who thirst for it. It is a lesson for the politicians who deceive, the executives who cheat, the leaders who abuse and the greedy among us who thirst for more and more.

To these people I have only a warning to deliver.

The book of history often has repeating chapters. I am afraid that yours has been written many a time. It does not end well.

Joseph Stalin – murderously paranoid dictator of the USSR – died alone in a puddle of his own urine. His guards were too afraid to help him.

Napoleon – egotistical master of Europe – died disgraced on an island in the middle of nowhere.

Mussolini – fascist leader of Italy and Hitler ally – was hung upside down and spat on.

Ceausescu – the Romanian dictator – was stormed by an angry mob and shot on live television.

Park Chung-hee – the mad South Korean autocrat – was killed by his own security guard.

Hendrick Verwoerd – stabbed in Parliament.

I could go on (Robespierre, Domitian, Nero, etc.), but you can already see the picture. This picture is not pretty, but it is true.

Seeking power for your own ends will destroy you in one way or another.

Power for power’s sake is poison. It is an accumulation of all that is wrong with humanity. It is also a tool for immense good, depending on who wields it.

Let today serve as a warning to all those who desire power: seek it for the right reasons. History shows that greedy men, evil men, suffer the most. There is that old saying: those who live by the sword die by the sword. Those who lust for power are strangled in its grip.

I do not only talk about dictators who died violently. I also talk about those who died peacefully, but have had their names since stained. Cecil John Rhodes, Idi Amin, nearly every colonial governor, corrupt businessmen and abusive clergymen. History is not kind to tyrants.

I therefore plead to all potential tyrants reading this: act in your own self-interest. That is what you have always enjoyed doing. Work for the betterment of others, and you will die a hero. Put yourself last, and put others first. Care not for money, power or prestige.

Care about the poor child who cannot go to school. Help that child, and you will truly live forever.

To the youth reading this: forget power. It will not help you. It is a cheap trick that takes you down the road of death. Do not chase power. Chase love. Chase a world made better by your hands. If you do this, power will come to you – and you will be its master. Seek not to be served, but to serve. Take not for yourself, but give to others. Do not glorify yourself.

Do not put up statues of yourself. Be a leader who people will want to commemorate. Let others build your statues.

Let others build your statues.

- Matthew Field is a student at UCT. He is studying Economics and Law.

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