Breakups

By Alex P. Vidal

“If you truly want to be respected by people you love, you must prove to them that you can survive without them.”― Michael Bassey Johnson, The Infinity Sign

WHAT happened to Rep. Julienne “Jamjam” Baronda and Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas, Iloilo City’s top two highest elected officials, has happened ominously to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, the country’s top two highest elected officials.

With the midterm election coming in 2025, the political jinx is expected to also wallop other “united” alliances and “solid” tandems in the region and all over the country.

It is called politics because kisses of Judas are rampant and prevalent; dances of Salome are pervasive and ubiquitous; embraces of Karamazov are rife and stupendous; praises of Brutus and Cassius are metastasizing.

Politics is too shallow to be considered as the barometer for a long-lasting friendship, union, mutuality and collaboration. Somewhere along the way, political betrothals fall apart.

In the long run, irrational thinking, pride, egomania and vainglory will prevail over faithfulness, permanence, persistence and longevity.

Self interest is the only permanent aspiration in politics, not friendship. Only the fools will insist divorce isn’t possible in hitherto robust political alignments.

Watch out for more brutal political breakups leading to the midterm and presidential elections in 2028. The show has just begun.

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MY interest in world history was rekindled after finding several hard-bound books dumped in a sidewalk garbage recently in Harlem, a neighborhood in the boundary of Manhattan and Bronx.

In one of the treasures I picked up, The Story of Civilization was prominently featured. Back in the Philippines, I was obsessed with this 10-volume cultural history of civilization (although I managed to secure only our volumes in a book sale in Surrey, Canada in 2010).

The work on The Story of Civilization originated in 1914 when Dr. Will Durant first began to collect material. With “The Story of Philosophy” fame lays a dozen years ahead.

More than 20 years later, in 1935, Part I, “Our Oriental Heritage,” was offered to the public. This was followed in 1939 by the second part, “The Life of Greece.” In 1944 came “Caesar and Christ,” the result of 25 years’ preparation and five years’ writing. Like the earlier parts, this volume, part III of Durant’s monumental survey of world history, is an independent self-contained segment of a 10-volume cultural history of civilization.

In this massive book, whose scope and wit recall the golden days of historical writing, Durant recounts the flaming pageant of the rise of Rome from a crossroads town to world mastery.

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He tells of its achievements through two centuries of security and peace, from the Crimea to Gibraltar and from the Euphrates to Hadrian’s Wall, of its spread of classic civilization over the Mediterranean and western European world.

Durant tells of Rome’s struggle to preserve its ordered realm from a surrounding sea of barbarism and of its long, slow crumbling and final catastrophic collapse into darkness and chaos.

Primarily a cultural history, Caesar and Christ lavishly discusses government, industry, manners, morals, the status of women, law , philosophy, science, literature, religion, and art.

Besides the varied pageant of the Catos, the Scipios, and the Gracchi, of Hannibal, Marius, Sulla, Catiline, Pompey, Caesar, Antony, Cleopatra, and the Emperors, good, bad, and indifferent, we view Cicero (busy in all departments of life), Lucretius, Catullus, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Tacitus, Juvenal, and such cultivators of latter day Hellenism as Plutarch, Lucian, and Marcus Aurelius.

Durants accompanies us to watch the rise of temples, basilicas, and forums pass a day of games and spectacles at the Flavian amphitheater (correctly nicknamed the Colosseum). Turning to the eastern Mediterrarian, Durant’s book will make us accompany Christ on his ministry, witness the tragic scenes of the Passion, and sail and walk with Paul on his missionary labors.

The colors darken, Palmyra rises and falls. The Empire attains a new–and spurious–invincibility under Aurelian, declines, and finally stiffens into a bureaucratic mold.

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Caesar and Christ contains many parallels to modern history, and Dr. Durant presents them with lucid authority. He believes that a reading of past events should illuminate the present. In the class struggles and jockeying for power that typify Roman history from the Gracchi to Caesar, he finds an analogue to the development of Europe and America from the French Revolution to the present time.

He reminds us that dictators have ever used the same methods. He tells us that the dole was restored to more than a century before Christ and that the first Roman labor union was established about 600 B.C.

We hear of bank failures, pork barrels, depressions, governmental projects and regulations, State Socialism, war-time priority plans, electoral corruption, pressure groups, trade associations, and other phenomena of ancient Rome that might easily fit into front-pages headlines of our own era.

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No man should claim that “l may be a bad husband, but I am a good father.”

It should be, “I am doing my best to be both a good husband and a good father because I love my family unconditionally.”

Relationship with our family isn’t a 5-6 deal; it’s not an eat-all-you-can meal; not a study-now-pay-later plan; not a chicken and egg debate; not a choice between wholesale and retail.

Family is a home, the altar of concrete union and a fountain of unconditional love, not a plate of pizza that can be sliced only according to our choice and appetite. Belated Happy Father’s Day.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)

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