On beasts, teachers and classics (or the aftermath of a course)

herculesThis small article comes many months since the last one in this blog. I have thus not obeyed the basic advice for a good blog: publish regularly. Despite that fact, I will post today (and try to continue in the future) because a course that I shared with a group of classics teachers last week gave me much food for thought. And here we go!

I recall the advertisement of an energy drink, some years ago, which used the slogan “bring out the beast”. What a saying! What a declaration! Maybe, the ultimate expression of the philosophy of a whole era. Maybe the notion of the purpose of the modern civilization that pushes us to become superhumans before becoming humans.

Superman is not merely a comic hero; it is what you are called to become, in order to run faster and to achieve more. And if you cannot become that (and clearly you cannot as you do not have the physical force, the natural capacity to fulfill that) don’t worry. Drink the magical drink and you will fly. The superdrink will release in you your superpowers (and not necessarily the good ones), it will help you “bring out the beast”.

Modern marketing, as the real child of our epoch, is in a hurry. It wants to sell here and now and to achieve that it pushes people too much. And it forgets that humanity and civilization have struggled during thousands of years to bring the beast back, to put it in the cage at least, to control it that is.

Humans do have inner power; many powers. But if these powers are not controlled they will be used for destruction. Our modern civilization, supported by the accelerated technology and globalization, has deified money as the final idol. Profit (in cash) is the ideal for anyone now: individuals, nations, countries. And the system is in desperate need of consumers. This is why it pushes people to look down, to look to the earth, to the soil and mud rather than up, to the spiritual, to the heaven. It underlines the passions and their satisfaction rather than your ability to learn, to criticize, to think, to love.

To teachers: do not expect a system that worships material life to give nice advice to students. It only wants to produce practically dead, in mind and spirit, consumers not thinking, live, responsible citizens. Use technology at school but also draw on the wealth of the classic past. Teach with technology but be also inspirational to your students and teach them urgently beauty, poetry, philosophy, creativity for a better future locally and globally.

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