Saturday, May 30, 2009

History through the Great Books - Book List

Here is the list of "Great Books" that I provide for my students. These are not all the great books ever written, nor are they all the books I have ever read, however I have read all of these; except for The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha, and Walden. I have tried several times on both – but Don Quixote is too sad, and Walden is pompous and boring. Many of the books below have greatly affected the history of the world; others are here because they have affected me. I hope you enjoy them.

History through the Great Books
Reading List

(2150 BC) The Epic of Gilgamesh

Homer (800 BC) The Iliad, The Odyssey

Aeschylus (525 BC) Agamemnon, Eumenides

Sophocles (495 BC) Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Electra

Herodotus (484 BC) The History of the Persian War

Euripides (480 BC) Medea, Hippolytus, The Trojan Women

Thucydides (460 BC) The Peloponnesian War

Plato (428 BC) Lysis, Symposium, Meno, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Alcibiades, The Republic; (There are many more.)

Aristotle (384 BC) Logic, Politics, Poetics, Rhetoric; (and much more)

Aristophanes (380 BC) The Clouds, The Wasps, The Birds, The Frogs, Lysistrata

Marcus Tullius Cicero, (106 BC) On the Laws, The Republic

Julius Caesar (102 BC) Gallic Wars

Virgil (70 BC) The Aeneid

Livy (59BC) The Histories of Rome

Tacitus (55 BC) The Annals and the Histories

Plutarch (40 BC) Lives of Noble Greeks and Romans

Augustine (430 AD) The Confessions, The City of God

(750 BC) Beowulf

Dante Alighieri (1265 AD) The Divine Comedy

Desiderius Erasmus (1467 AD) The Praise of Folly

Thomas Malory (1469 AD) Le Morte D’Arthur

Nicolo Machiavelli (1469 AD) The Prince

Nicolas Copernicus (1473 AD) On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres

Miguel De Cervantes (1547 AD) The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha

Galileo Galilei (1564 AD) Two New Sciences

William Shakespeare (1564 AD)
Comedies – The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing;
Tragedies – Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Titus Andronicus, The Tragedy of King Richard the Third, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra ;
Histories – Henry the Fifth, Cymbeline

Thomas Hobbes (1588 AD) Leviathan

Frances Bacon (1551 AD) Essays

Johannes Kepler (1571 AD) The Harmonies of the World

John Milton (1608 AD) Paradise Lost
John Lock (1632) Two Treatises on Government

Jonathan Swift (1667 AD) Gulliver’s Travels, A Modest Proposal

Voltaire (1694 AD) Candide

Benjamin Franklin (1706 AD) The Autobiography

Henry Fielding (1707 AD) Tom Jones

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 AD) Confessions, The Social Contract or Principles of Political Right

Thomas Paine (1737 AD) Common Sense, The Rights of Man, The Age of Reason

Sir Walter Scott (1771 AD) Ivanhoe

Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison (1788 AD) The Federalist Papers

Nineteenth Century
J. M. Barrie - Peter Pan
Edward Bellamy – Looking Backward

Frank Bullen – The Cruse of the Cachalot

Lewis Carroll - Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass

Joseph Conrad – Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness
James Fennimore Cooper – The Last of the Mohicans
Charles Darwin – The Origin of the Species, The Decent of Man

Charles Dickens – Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield

Alexander Dumas – The Three Musketeers

George Eliot – Silas Marner

Nathanial Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter, Twice Told Tales, The House of the Seven Gables

Victor Hugo – Notre Dame de Paris, Les Miserables

Rudyard Kipling – The Jungle Books I & II, Kim

Karl Marx – The Manifesto of the Communist Party

Herman Melville – Moby Dick, Billy Budd

Alexander Pushkin – Eugene Onegin

Upton Sinclair – The Jungle
Robert Lewis Stevenson – The Black Arrow, Treasure Island

Harriet Beecher Stowe – Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Henry David Thoreau – Walden, Duty of Civil Disobedience

Mark Twain – Life on the Mississippi, Adventurers of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Short Stories – Eve’s Diary, Extract from Adam’s Diary, Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven, The Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg, The Mysterious Stranger, Fennimore Cooper's Literary Offenses, The Awful German Language

Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace, Anna Kerenia

Ivan Turgenev – Fathers and Sons

Oscar Wilde – The Complete Fairy Tales, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Twentieth Century

L. Frank Baum – The Wizard of Oz, The Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, The Road to Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, The Scarecrow of Oz, Rinkitink in Oz, The Lost Princes of Oz, The Tin Woodman of Oz, The Magic of Oz, Glinda of Oz

Pearl S. Buck – The Good Earth

Lydia Chakovskaya – Sofia Petrovna
Bryce Courtenay - The Power of One

Arthur Conan Doyle – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles

Michael Ende – The Neverending Story

Albert Einstein – Relativity the Special and the General Theory

C. S. Forester – Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, Lieutenant Hornblower, Hornblower and the Hotspur, Hornblower During the Crisis, Hornblower and the Atrops, Beat to Quarters, Ship of the Line, Flying Colors, Commodore Hornblower, Lord Hornblower, Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies

E. M. Forster – A Passage to India

Jean Giono – The Man Who Planted Trees

Fyodor Gladkav – Cement

William Golding – Lord of the Flies

Robert Graves – I Claudius, Claudius the God and His Wife Messalina, The White Goddess, King Jesus, The Greek Myths – Complete Edition

Arthur L. Guptill – Drawing and Sketching in Pencil

Robert Beverly Hale – Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters, Anatomy Lessons from the Great Masters

Alex Haley – Roots

Edith Hamilton – The Greek Way

Ernest Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea

Frank Herbert – Dune

James Hilton – Goodbye Mr. Chips

John Knowles – A Separate Peace

Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird

C. S. Lewis – The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Mere Christianity, The Screw Tape Letters

William Manchester – American Caesar

Norman McClean – A River Runs Through It

James Mortimer – Rumpole of the Bailey
Richard Nixon – No More Vietnams

George Orwell – Animal Farm, 1984

Stephen Pressfield – Gates of Fire, The Virtues of War
Mary Renault - The Last of the Wine, The King Must Die, The Bull from the Sea

Earnest Thompson Seton – Wild Animals I Have Known, Two Little Savages, Rolf in the Woods. Trails of an Artiest Naturalist, Animal Heroes, The Birch Bark Roll of the Woodcraft Indians, BSA Handbook

Alexander Solzhenitsyn – One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The First Circle, The Gulag Archipelago

Irving Stone – The Agony and the Ecstasy

J. R. R. Tolkien – The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion

Eugene Zamiatin - We

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Book Talk

A request to present my “favorite book of the year” prompted me to put together a Book Talk for my fellow teachers. I offered it at faculty meeting along with two others presenters.

President Obama’s dependence on his teleprompter was much in the news [I note that Joe Biden made a joke about it today, May 27, 2009] so I began with a bit of a rib, “This may be a little rough without a teleprompter.”

I went on to warn them that they wouldn’t be able to use their ray guns to take the quiz at the end. Some classes at Layton High have recently been fitted with electronic test taking devices which allow students to answer questions from power-point presentations by pushing buttons on a hand held remote. Their scores and other data are stored for displayed and contemplation.

I pointed out that teaching is my second carrier. After seven years as a professional Boy Scout – I admit I have never had a real job – teaching looked very attractive to me. It has proven to be everything I had hoped; I am paid to talk and read books.

I have read several books since last May, including the DC comic book version of the Iliad, and the Truth about Muhammad by Robert Spence. As we have a teacher at our school named Robert Spence I noted that it is rather exciting to find an author avoiding fatwa here at Layton High

I pointed out that books come in different sizes: and I think Einstein would have agreed that the length has nothing to do with the number of pages. Indeed the longest book of the year was Relativity, the Special and General Theory by Albert Einstein.

I read it on the insistence of my son in law; who graduated last year from the U’s college of Engineering with a degree in Computer Science and who started work the next week earning more than any one in public education CAN ever make. He wanted me to read the book so that I would be able to talk with him about something on his level! The page count is 178 – but I was much relieved to find the last 47 pages were appendices; which I felt justified in avoiding. Having “finished” the book we held the long awaited discussion. It ended badly when he discovered I had the audacity to disagree with Einstein. I told him not to feel so bad – when I read the Bible I find myself arguing with God.

I also read a very short 801 page Tom Jones by Henry Fielding. Our school Librarian made the mistake of asking me how I liked it. There is half an hour of her life she will never get back. I had attempted to read the book in high school, tantalized by the promise of so much sex. However I found that when ever Tom got a woman in bed, Fielding would sum up the chapter with, “I will leave the rest to the reader’s imagination.” Not much to visualize there at age 16 – so I gave it up. However, now, after thirty years of marriage, I found it far more titillating.

I then explained that these are not the books I want to talk about!

The best book I read this past year was Drawing and Sketching in Pencil by Arthur L. Guptill. (Here I held up my copy for display) One opinion I have gained over the past 30 years is this: those who can – do, those who can’t – teach, and those who can’t teach - teach teachers. In this book I have finally found the exception that proves the rule: a great teacher teaching – and doing it in the best way, by example. Guptill teaches us how to teach by masterfully teaching. I believe that if all the time and treasure poured into grants and programs, accreditations, standardized testing, and “No Child Left Behind,” had been otherwise invested and every teacher in America given a copy of this book and the inclination to read it, American education would have been, in truth, improved.

I directed them to a page of my notes taken while reading Guptill; confessing that I haven’t really gotten the computer thing down; I gave them all copies, pointing out that I am just getting going with the copy machine. I warned them that if they actually read the quotes I supply below they would see that I haven’t gotten the “spell check” down. I explained, if you would look at this last page you’ll see my notes on the detail Guptill went to in explaining how to sharpen a pencil.

I can share only a glimpse of Drawing and Sketching in Pencil with you. But I have attempted to do just that. Please read some quotes. You can grasp the extended impact of this book by substituting any other life activity for drawing; the maxims are equally as true. Please note that most of these quotes are single sentences, Guptill had never heard of Ernest Hemingway.

Pg. XII D – For the beginner needs a teacher and no book or books can take the place of personal instruction. - - in fact, a book of this sort can do little but offer general instructions and suggest a bit of knowledge and a little inspiration; - - if the reader gains a few thoughts that are new or has ideas which were partly forgotten brought back to him or is made to see familiar things from an enlarged viewpoint, this work will have served a useful purpose. (This is what teachers do, we take what books have and enlarge our students.)

Pg. 78 B – It is impossible to over-emphasize the need for constant practice if one is to acquire more than ordinary skill in drawing. Many students with considerable innate ability fail to make the best use of it because of their lack of interest or perseverance, whereas others, who show at first far less natural talent, but who work for it, often gain such skill as to far outshine those students with greater inborn aptitude. It is deplorable that so many persons fail to make the most of their natural abilities, but is, on the other hand, most gratifying to find others who force themselves to the front through their persistency and commendable effort. (Those who work, and can be inspired to work hard, will advance.)

Pg. 184 A&B – There are students, for instance, so imbued with earnestness and enthusiasm, so passionately found of drawing, that they seize with avidity every hint or suggestion which is offered as an aid to the development of their talent, and who at the same time possess enough commonsense to realize their own shortcomings and weaknesses and to direct their own energies to the best advantage in their attempt to over come them, so planning their study and practice that they move on step-by-step up a road of steady progress. (The students we all wish we had; we all wish we were.)

Pg. 184 B – Needless to say men of this type [see the quote above] are scarce, however, the average student falling into one or another of three classes, the first including such as either underrate their own ability or are easily disheartened, the second and largest class consisting of those having a fair amount of ability and confidence coupled with a willingness to work, and with an excellent attitude towards the acceptance of instruction and criticism, the third being made up of a few such vain and self-conceited individuals as hold the egotistical opinion that their work is the acme of perfection ignoring with thinly masked ridicule the suggestions of their instructors and fellow students, seemingly ignorant or careless of the fact that their attitude of antagonism is deterrent to their own progress. (The students we have to deal with. This book was written in 1922; this problem is not new.)

Pg. 184 – So make your choice with care, but once you go to a teacher, put yourself under his direction unreservedly, and even though you sometimes fail to agree with him or his corrections or criticism, try to get his viewpoint, to see from his eyes may be broader than you own. (Find a teacher – be a teacher.)

Pg. 186 B – So in closing let us repeat, then, that each man should study his needs and straightway commence to correct his faults and overcome his weaknesses, seeking instruction, inviting criticism, comparing results with drawing by others and so striving constantly for greater perfection, remembering that one never reach the point were it is not possible for him to advance still further, - - and let it be remembered, too, that even though one fails to acquire exceptional skill, what ever of dexterity is gained will always prove a source of pleasure and satisfaction. (This is the last paragraph of the book; we should find joy in our efforts, and help our students to find joy in doing their best.)

“Now,” I told them, “is the time to applaud.”

Books read from May 2008 through May 2009

Life is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition, Wendell Berry, 153 pgs

Drawing and Sketching in Pencil, Arthur L. Guptill, 186 pgs.

Perspective Made Easy, Ernest R. Norling, 203 pgs.

Age of Bronze A thousand Ships, Eric Shanower, 206 pgs.

Age of Bronze Sacrifice, Eric Shanower, 214 pgs.

Age of Bronze Betrayal, Eric Shanower, 162 pgs.

The Truth about Muhammad, Robert Spencer, 195 pgs.

The Never Ending Story, Michael Ende, 377 pgs.

The Iliad of Homer, Marvel Classic Comic, Adapted by Roy Thomas & Miguel Angel Sepulveda, 180 pgs. (I counted)

Relativity, the Special and General Theory, Albert Einstein, 129 pgs.

Tom Jones, Henry Fielding, 801 pgs.

The 10 Big Lies about America, Michael Medved, 262 pgs.

The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, 87 pgs.

Between You and I, James Cachrane, 132 pgs.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Dream of Achilles

Achilles had the choice of two fates. He could choose to die young, battling before the walls of Troy, and gain eternal fame; or he could live to be old, beloved of his grandchildren, but forgotten when they were gone. He chose his grandchildren. Achilles is the archetype of all heroes; he is the personification of greatness, because, although he dreamed of his grandson’s love, he fought for justice, knowing his victory would cost him his dream.

I was recently one of the judges tasked to select four graduation speakers from a field of twenty-two eager high school seniors. The topic was based on a quote by Henry David Thoreau challenging all to reach for their dreams. As the tryouts wore on, speech after speech full of references to Lincoln, King, Mandela, and Obama, of blind men climbing Mt. Everest and dying men giving “Last Lectures,” I found myself questioning my life’s accomplishments. It is one thing for kids of 18 to contemplate hitching their wagons to the stars, but when there is not realistic way to calculate one’s pile of birthdays into anything corresponding to the middle-age of any human that has lived outside the Old Testament, such dreaming is depressing. Then I had a thought that brought great pleasure and peace.

I recalled how the weekend before, I had been on a “Fathers and Sons” camping trip with my eldest and his four year old son. I hate camping, and the night was particularly uncomfortable, most of it spent in a fight to keep my grandson warm while I froze; wrapping his sweet perfection in my old arms beneath a pile of quilts. We got up early and played hide-and-seek with his invisible dragon. As I carried my beautiful grandson across the camp lawn, he suddenly placed his hands to either side of my face, brought his eyes close to mine, and saying, “Grandpa, I love you,” kissed me on the lips.

Sitting in that classroom, awash in the accounts of the great men whose deeds have changed the world, and buffeted by the daring of youth reaching for their dreams, I realized I already had the “Dream of Achilles”!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Talking Points and Questions on Detention at Guantanamo Bay and the Enhanced Interrogation of Terrorists

Current issues discussions in my Government Class have naturally led to a dust up over water-boarding and detentions at Guantanamo. I organized my thoughts and shared them with my students. Only one got up and walked out. I have recorded my thoughts below.

The argument that claims that water-boarding has been classed as torture by past US judicial action is based on references to lists on which true torture techniques; actions such as beating, clubbing, and burning with cigarettes have been delineated. It is at least questionable as to whether water-boarding alone would have been considered torture. Be that as it may; it is instructive to note that Congress could not pass a law against water-boarding, nor has the Supreme Court ruled it as cruel and unusual punishment or as torture. The Constitution gives one person, the President of the United States, the prerogative to act in the extraordinary circumstances encountered in defending the nation. President Bush made one decision, President Obama seems to have made another; does that mean that either man was wrong?

Detention of enemy combatants has long been acceptable under the rules of war – including the Geneva Convention. At one time the solution for dealing with enemies captured on the battle field was to massacre them, make them slaves, or exhibit them in bloody obliteration at the Coliseum.

The Geneva Convention treaties are applicable within certain express criteria which, terrorists do not fit, (fighting for their country, wearing a uniform, acting under orders of a legitimate and recognized chain of command), therefore the US is not bound to treat terrorists in the same way they are required to treat enemy soldiers captured in treaty relevant conflicts. It should be remembered that spies can be shot or hung, a rather severe violation of their human rights, because they are not covered by treaty protections and because they are in violation of the rules of war. Since none of the terrorists captured wore uniforms, and therefore were all in violation of the rules of war, could they not have been tried at the “drum-head” as spies and hung?

There is a difference between an enemy combatant and an accused criminal prisoner. Enemy Combatants are not entitled to the presumption of innocence, there is no due process requirement in relationship to them, and there is no obligation to provide them with a speedy and public trial. No trial is required at all.

Similar differences apply to POW’s. (Although enemy combatants are not POW’s, POW’s are referenced here to show that there are accepted exceptions to US Constitutional standards.) POW’s do not receive trials; they can be exchanged, but need not be released as long as “the War” continues.

I note that some enemy prisoners have been tried for “war crimes” after their capture – a clear violation of the Geneva Convention – and some have been executed by US and other tribunals. It is curious that many of those who decry “harsh interrogation” cite these acts with glee.

Many things done to prisoners, criminal and otherwise, are painful and humiliating. Besides the horrors of imprisonment; hard labor, solitary confinement, restricted diet, imposed schedules, the loss of First Amendment rights (no free speech , assembly, press, the right to vote, etc.), not to mention execution, surely the cruelest form of punishment imaginable; are all inflected on American Citizens with full Constitutional rights. It is because imprisonment is torturous that the threat of it can be used to coerce criminals into plea-bargains and confessions. Obviously, we are capable of drawing lines. Prisons are for punishment as well as rehabilitation and all punishment seems cruel and unusual to those who are being punished.

When one is battling enemies on the battle field, it is apparent that one is justified in using any tactic necessary to destroy the foe or render him harmless. Once an enemy surrenders, morality dictates that he be treated differently. However, if he, by his refusal to cooperate, continues to threaten lives, he is not rendered harmless, and one is forced to consider what actions can be taken to eliminate such a continuing threat. This sets up the “ticking time bomb” scenario.

It is reasonable that an enemy rendered harmless has a certain just claim to humane treatment, even protection; however, if they are not harmless, can the drastic measure we use to render enemies safe be considered for use against them? Realize that in order to make enemies “harmless”, we have fire-bombed cities full of civilians, we have sunk ships packed with thousands of conscripted soldiers and sailors, we have unleashed atomic bombs and vaporized thousands of innocent children. To protect our nation and its citizens, our heroes – on the battlefield and in law enforcement –stab, beat, club and shoot people everyday. Police officers even shoot down common thieves who appear to threaten them and kill burglars in high speed chases. Lawmen have shot down drunken innocents who simply found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. We impose blockades, starving millions; we cut off medical supplies to entire nations, allowing disease and suffering to spread; and we destroy economies, ripping apart families and devastating generations. We send our own children into violent service which often damages their physical and mental health for the rest of their lives; all too often they are killed. We require our police and firemen to run into burning and collapsing buildings, our pilots to complete dangerous training and frequently perform life threatening maneuvers so that they can be prepared to defend us.

An applicable analogy?

Child abuse is wrong. Burning a child with cigarettes, or hot irons, or burning coals would be child abuse. Whipping them with a lash, cutting them with knives, breaking their bones or joints is recognizable abuse. What about spanking, or grounding? I know some children who feel they are “verbally abused” when scolded by a parent, or even when their opinions are questioned by a teacher. There are those who think having to do their homework is torture, learning made into punishment. Can we draw lines between abuse and actions which coerce children into right behavior by practices which are painful, disagreeable; even humiliating? Are such actions ever made permissible by the greater issues to be considered?

How are these lines drawn – who draws them – can reasonable people disagree on them? Should the consequences of a child’s disobedience or a terrorist’s subterfuge be considered in drawing such lines? Who gets to decide?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Universal Recognition of Right and Wrong: Self Evident Truth and Man

On January 31, 2009, an event gave evidence to the equality of all men. The media, obsessed with fluctuations in economies, football games, and the misbehaviors of celebrities, chose to all but ignore it; there was a short AP story; buried on page A7 in the my local newspaper. As a student of History, I have hope that the significance of the day will be recognized and celebrated when the politics of “hope” and “change” return to the governance of reason. The event – the peaceful and democratic provincial elections conducted throughout Iraq - demonstrates the existence of Truths which are self evident to all reasoning beings. In spite of years of terrorist atrocities, decades of brutal dictatorship and centuries of superstitious indoctrination: given their freedom, the Iraqis behaved, quite naturally, like humans.

While the Iraqi miracle gives empirical evidence that neither geography, climate, race, religion, culture, nor language can override the common nature of men, it is in the study of our history that we can find proof of our common mind and expose the truths reason reveals. Faced with the horrific evil wrought by those whose glory and power rested on the thralldom of others, George W. Bush proposed that, given freedom, people would choose the right. President Bush followed up his words with deeds, crushing oppressive terror states in Iraq and Afghanistan to let in the light of truth and gave fifty million the chance to be human and thus humane.

His distracters, sadly more interested in political power for themselves and their causes than in the safety of Americans or the freedom of mankind, have actually gone so far as to argue that democracy and freedom are American ideas not suitable for Muslim states or necessarily desirable for all nations. I actually heard an MSNBC talking head equat bringing freedom to Iraq and Afghanistan to British Imperialism, and the emergence of democracy; a right for which thousands of Iraqis gave their lives to procure for their fellows; compared to the imposition of puppet monarchies by the French and British in their mandates carved out of the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire. Such opinions are either disastrously uninformed or dastardly deceptive. The unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not an expedient concoction scribbled down by Thomas Jefferson to justify war; they are an incantation invoking eternal truths.

In spite of the universal failure of Marxism, and the exposition of the abominations perpetrated in desperate attempts to impose communism on mankind, it is still fashionable, in some circles, to cling to the baseless myths of historical determinism, the pseudo-social science that Marx invoked in his attempt to bind all things to his phantasm of economic progress. Marx claimed that new truths come into existence marching lock step through history with his arbitrary truncations of human existence. Such a view shows a simple lack of study. It is still fashionable about the halls of academia to ascribe the ideas of capitalism and democracy to the “age of Enlightenment” and claim that the “natural rights theory” was crafted by European men: Hobbs to Lock to Montesquieu to Voltaire to Jefferson; linked to Adam Smith. Once this silliness appeared in the text books and became enshrined in the generationally regurgitated lecture notes of professors; now dutifully posted on Wikipedia; it became accepted by those whose learning is limited to listening to lectures. It is far from the truth. None of these men would have claimed to have invented the ideas attributed to them any more than Copernicus would have claimed to have originated the idea of the heliocentric model, nor to have himself, placed the sun at the center of the world. The truths which Lock and Jefferson evoked not only predated their time, but have quite simply always existed, and have been recognized, if not realized, by humans as long as they have had the capacity to reason.

Words allow the communication of ideas and writing allows for the communication of ideas over time and space. From the day when the most ancient of oral traditions were put down in written words, the historic evidence of the universal existence of human reason and the reasoned recognition of universal truths has been documented.

The events recounted in Homer’s Iliad, as attested to by the archaeology of Schliemann and records found at Nineveh, occurred about 1200 BC; approximately the same time that Moses climbed Sinai. In this “oldest of books”, a poem four hundred years in the making, we clearly see the truths recognized by Jefferson and aspired to by the free peoples of Iraq. The day came when Agamemnon, King of Men, unjustly took the woman Briseis from Achilles. The words of Achilles, the archetypical hero, demonstrate his understanding of the natural laws which enable justice and underpin all good governments. His affirmation is the same as Jefferson’s. Any king who does not fulfill his duty to protect the rights of his people is no king. It is the right and the duty of free men – of heroes – to desert such tyrants. Achilles speaks:

"Why must we battle Trojans, men of Argos? Why did he muster an army, lead us here, that son of Atreus? Why, why in the world if not for Helen with her loose and lustrous hair? Are they the only men alive who love their wives, those sons of Atreus? Never! Any decent man, a man with sense, loves his own, cares for his own as deeply as I. I loved that woman with all my heart, though I won her like a trophy with my spear. . . But now that he’s torn my honor from my hands, robbed me, lied to me – don’t let him try me now. I know him too well – he’ll never win me over!"

Three hundred years after Homer’s poem recorded Achilles’ “revolution”, Sophocles wrote the tragedy Antigone. Neither the story recounted in the play nor its Truths were original to the poet. Sophocles tells of a princess’ act of civil disobedience; the justice of which rang as true to the Athenian audience then as the acts of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela made sense to reasoning minds in the twentieth century. It is this universal recognition of justice, this conscious acceptance of Truth that is demonstrably common to the experience of all free people. The two brother kings of Thebes had fought for power. Eteocles defended his city with his warriors; Polyneices attacked his own people with foreign troops. At the end of the battle, both kings lay dead. Creon, their uncle, took the throne. Eager to demonstrate his power and judgment, he decreed that his nephew, Polyneices, should be left unburied; his purpose was to damn the young man’s soul. Whether one believes that leaving the body of the dead to the dogs condemns the soul to eternal wanderings was not the issue – it was that Creon believed it would and determination to usurp that power; placing his man-made law at odds with Laws of nature and nature’s God. Antigone defied injustice and buried her brother. Dragged before her uncle, Antigone confronted the tyrant with reason, the unfailing and logical proposition that one must place eternal Laws above the whims of men. When Martin Luther King defied the statutes of segregation, thinking people knew he was right and that the legislators and sheriffs who decreed otherwise – even though they represented the will of the majority - were wrong. The wrong opinion of the many collapsed before the power of the Truth. Sophocles gives voice to reason:

Creon (to Antigone): "You – tell me not at length but in a word.
You knew the order not to do this thing?"

Antigone: "I knew, of course I knew. The word was plain."

Creon And still you dared to overstep these laws?

Antigone: "For me it was not Zeus who made that order.
Nor did the justice who lives with the gods below
Mark down such laws to hold among mankind.
Nor did I think your orders we so strong
That you, a mortal man, could over-run
The gods’ unwritten and unfailing Laws,
Not now, not yesterday’s, they always live,
And no one knows their origin in time."

Confucius, contemporary with Sophocles but a world away, admonishes his disciples, “Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage.” Confucius brings his wisdom to bear on unjust government and the obligations of all men to recognize tyranny and act. “If what he [the ruler] says is good and no one goes against him, good. But if what he says is not good and no one goes against him, then is this not almost a case of leading the state to ruin?” The inclusion of Confucius as a none-western example of “world wide” recognition of these Laws may be rather skimpy. May I suggest another?

After the over through of the Grand Magus (522 B.C.), the Persian revolutionaries met to discuss the future government they would craft for their empire. In the end, Darius was chosen king by the neighing of a horse, but the debate, as recorded by Herodotus, is instructive. The actual leader of the rebellion, Otanes, after outlining the evils of monarchy and oligarchy, begged his cohorts to choose democracy. His words, “A tyrant disturbs ancient laws, violates women, kills men without trial. But a people ruling – first, the very name of it is so beautiful; and secondly, a people does none of these things.” Note the phrase “disturbs ancient laws”. It is instructive to note that we now call Persia, Iran, and that the center of the Persian Empire was Babylon – just down stream form Bagdad. It seems that a long time ago, someone from Iraq could comprehend freedom.

At the same time, the wisdom recognized in China and Iran was stirring action in Rome.
Confident of the power his position gave him, the son of the king of Rome raped Lucretia. Once she had revealed the crime to her husband Lucretia killed herself. Lucius Junius Brutus, the savior of the Roman people, took action. With the bloody knife in hand, he brought the truth to the oppressed people. They would recognize the same natural Laws that were self evident to Achilles, and would inspire Jefferson. Livy recounts Brutus’ words:

"By this girl’s blood – non more chaste till a tyrant wronged her – and by the gods, I swear that with sword and fire, and whatever else can lend strength to my arm, I will pursue Lucius Tarquinius the Proud, his wicked wife, and all his children, and never again will I let them or any other man be king in Rome."

In the waning days of the Roman Republic, Cicero appealed to the same reason in his defense of Justice in his dialogue On the Laws. He and his brother Quintus discuss the nature of natural and eternal Law as opposed to the often unjust statues of men. They conclude that one can actually judge a state and its laws by their agreement with universal Truths. Cicero also makes the same conclusion I am seeking to espouse; that the Truths upon which just nations are based are eternal and recognized naturally by all men. When men are free to choose, they will naturally choose justice and right.

Marcus: "Ever since we were children, Quintus, we have learned to call, “if one summon another to court”, and other rules of the same kind, laws. But we must come to the true understanding of the matter, which is as follows: this and other commands and prohibitions of nations have the power to summon to righteousness and away from wrong-doing; but this power is not merely older than the existence of nations and states, it is coeval [of the same age] with the God who guards and rules heaven and earth. For the divine mind cannot exist without reason, and divine reason cannot but have this power to establish right and wrong . . . Even if there was not written law against rape at Rome in the reign of Lucius Tarquinius, we cannot say on that account that Sextus Tarquinius did not break the eternal Law by violating Lucretia, the daughter of Lucretius! For reason did exist, derived from the Nature of the universe, urging men to right conduct and diverting them from wrongdoing, and this reason did not first become Law when it was written down, but when it first came into existence; and it came into existence simultaneously with the divine mind. Wherefore the true and primal Law, applied to command and prohibition is the right reason of supreme Jupiter."

Quintus: "I agree with you brother, that what is right and true is also eternal, and does not begin or end with written statutes."

Cicero wrote before the birth of Jesus, before the reign of the first Roman Emperor, before the Anglo Saxons reached England, before Muhammad, the invasions of the Huns, or the Mongols. An ocean of time and space separate Cicero and the people of Iraq, but they recognize the same truths. Clearly, Cicero predated the Enlightenment philosophers of the 18th century. But, there can be little doubt that all of these men had read their Cicero, and it is just as certain that when he is read in Bagdad his words will ring as true. I have a friend in Bagdad today, a Coast Guard officer, instructor of military law, and a lawyer who is teaching the Rule of Law to the Iraqis. It will not be easy – the Achaeans, the Romans, the Chinese and the Americans have often fallen short of their duty to the Truth, but after so much sacrifice and so much wisdom, we can hope they too will choose the right, they will realize their humanity. For as Cicero says:

"Law is the highest reason, implanted in Nature, which commands what ought to be done and forbids the opposite. This reason, when firmly fixed and fully developed in the human mind, is LAW. And so they believe that Law is intelligence, whose natural function is to command right conduct and forbid wrongdoing . . . Now if this is correct, and I think it to be in general, then the origin of Justice is to be found in Law, for Law is a natural force; it is the mind and reason of the intelligent man, the standard by which Justice and Injustice are measured. . . But in determining what Justice is, let us begin with that supreme Law which had its origin ages before any written Law existed or any State had been established."

A new state has been established in Iraq, its constitution crafted by the will of the people, its freedom bought by their blood. If it succeeds, it will be a great victory for justice and reason; if it fails it will be a harbinger of man’s inability to reach his divine potential. Either way, that so many have tried so hard and achieved so much is empirical proof of the ancient arguments that reveal the eternal nature of Truth, Justice and the human way!