written on a Tuesday; Sep 6' 2022Campus Martius

A friend of mine gifted me a copy of "Roma soy yo: La verdadera historia de Julio César", a book from Santiago Posteguillo.

Growing up, I loved anything and everything related to Julius Caesar (and military figures in general). Of course, I was super excited about this new book.

Of the many stories narrated in the book (itself a novel, based on some historical facts) one struck me the most: "Campus Martius".

The Field of Mars

Mars -the god of war- was one of Rome's patrons; people gave him tribute to aid on military campaigns and agriculture.

To this field, people sent their children to learn about fighting, leadership, dealing with obstacles and the harsh reality of life. Instead of shielding them into security, the history goes, they sent them to forge a grasp on life, thru fighting.

In popular culture, you can see a similar philosophy in Zack Snyder's movie, 300. Parents took their kids, all of them (males in this case, but nowadays, we should argue for both male and female) and tried to erradicate all sign of weakness out of them. Of course, besides the histrionic nature of that popular culture narrative, some lessons could be extracted.

When I read that part of the book, in which a young Gaius Julius Caesar is fighting against his odds, one idea came to mind: ancient romans (imperfect as they were), made the greatest tribute of all to Mars: A promise not to raise weak people.

A modern and refined attempt

Thankfully, we've grown a lot since those times -arguably-. We can dispense of the brutality and implement a saner version of this training.

Vulnerability is acceptable, weakness should not. Nowadays, a more compassionate and broad approach can be develop.

Instead of propagating non sense (such as "words are violence", violence for real1), we can and should strive to raise stronger people: people who can, not only phisically defend themselves to a point, but also be mentally strong enough to deal with contrary views, disrupting events and find common ground to live in society while having different ideals.

On an individual level, of course. Requesting the state to police our emotions is -in my opinion- the ultimate declaration of inferiority and weakness.

Martial arts help fullfill this endeavour nowadays. At least, that is my firm viewpoint.

We should and will explore this idea further.

1 Of course, there is hate speech. In a civil society, between civil and reasonable people, some ugly ideas (such as racism, antisemitism, homophobia, etc.) should indeed be discussed. The point is precisely that: shielding people from ugly ideas won't make them go away. The individual ability to deal in a civil manner about such stupid manifestations of human intolerance, is quite desirable.