Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Alexander's Veteran Soldiers

Last week I talked about Alexander the Great's army containing career/veteran soldiers. What I didn't mention is that some of those soldiers were in their late 60s.

If you were a young 20 some year old fighting a 60 year old I'm pretty sure you would be thinking that this was going to be an easy win. After all, your opponent is old, frail and slow but that's not how I see it. 

Being a soldier is one of the most dangerous career path one can take. Many soldiers, of that time, didn't live to see their 30s and it's, therefore, pretty rare to see someone reach old age.
Sure, an older man may be slower than a young 20 year old but we have to remember that those 60 year old soldiers were not like most 60 year old we see today. Since they spent most of their time on their feet they were in great shape for their age and, perhaps most importantly, their advance age as a soldier meant that they hadn't yet met their match in battle.

If I was a young soldier, at the time of Alexander, I would be scared when faced against a 60 year old veteran soldier. Wouldn't you?

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

If I Could Go Back In Time...

If I had a time machine I would go back to the time of Alexander the Great. More specifically, when Alexander's army faced off Darius' massive army which some historians say was 1 million men strong and contained war animals, such as elephants, among it's ranks.

"An army of sheep, led by a LION is better than an army of LIONS, led by a SHEEP" 
- Alexander The Great

What I find fascinating about this particular battle is we see first hand what a strong leader, with a small army, can do against a weak leader with a large army. Alexander was a young commander that was taught the art of war by his father, King Philip, at a very young age. His army consisted primarily of veteran, career, soldiers.
Darius, on the other hand, was a King that grew up in luxury not knowing much about war. His army consisted of career soldiers as well as blacksmith, shopkeepers, potters ... or any other man that could hold a sword and a shield. His primary strategy was to intimidate the Macedonians by the sheer number of men. This proved futile, however, as the Macedonians knew too well that most men in-front of them were not as battle tested as they were.

What Darius failed to understand is that you're only as strong as your weakest link and the weakest link, in his case, was the men that had no battle experience. Once the battle started, these inexperienced soldiers started to flee which created hysteria among the masses. Many of Darius' men died on the battlefield and many more fled the scene including Darius' himself. The Persian casualties is said to have been in the few hundred of thousands while the Macedonians had only lost a few hundred men. An impressive feat considering the size differences of each armies.

It was a well known fact that Alexander would spare cities that surrendered to him. Needless to say that Alexander's conquest became much easier once the word got out that he had brought down one of the vastest army of the time. After all, if Alexander could defeat an army said to be 1 million men strong how could a city state of a few thousand people expect to stop his advances?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the rise and fall of Alexander's in the book "Alexander the Great" by author Jacob Abbott. The book is considered public domain and is therefor free - you should pick it up!

When/Where would you go if you could go back in time?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

My Parents Changed the Neighborhood

The Road

"You can only lead by example."
-Frank Langella

My parents have owned the same house for roughly 35 years. It's on the country side and, for a time, it housed a family of 4 alongside a bunch of pets.
For most of those 35 years my parents have mowed the lawn on the side of the road for roughly half a kilometre each side of their property (pictured). For years, my parents were the only ones to do this but recently the neighbors have jumped on the idea.

The benefits are evident:

  • The road looks cleaner.
  • It stops the trees/grass from growing too close to the road.
    • It increases visibility of cars getting in/out of yards.
    • It increases visibility of pets/human/animals that want to cross the road.

When we think about leadership we usually think about business or some big endeavor but it really can be as small as mowing the lawn. My parents didn't ask people to do anything - they lead by example and, eventually, it caught on. As far as I know, this is the only street where people do this and I like that it all started with my parents.

Have you done anything to make your neighborhood better?

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Freedom IS about Wearing a Mask

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."
-Thomas Jefferson

It is natural for us to believe that freedom is the opposite of law. We would think that freedom means that I can do anything that I want but in reality you're only free to do anything that you want for as long as you don't step on someone else's freedom. 
If we were to remove the laws related to how we use the road the end result would be chaos and definitely not freedom. It's illegal to drive at top speed, or while being drunk, because doing so endangers other people - doing so steps on other people's freedom to use the road.
We need a minimum set of rules so that our actions don't negatively impact someone else's freedoms. 

"Every man should be responsible to others, nor should any one be allowed to do just as he pleases; for when absolute freedom is allowed there is nothing to restrain the evil which is inherent in every man."
-From Book VI (chapter 6) of "Politics" book by Aristotle

I can't help but think about the road scenario whenever someone says that being forced to wear a face mask, to slow/stop the spread of Covid-19, goes against their freedom. By not wearing a mask they are making the road less safe for all of us the same way as if we were to remove the laws that pertains to the road. In-fact, a lot of our freedoms are at stake if we don't do our part to stop the spread of the virus. If we can't control the spread of the virus then how long do you think restaurants, bars and other public places will remain open?

It's true that someone can say "I don't care if I get sick" but what about those around that person that don't want to get sick? Why are some people being so selfish about this? Some people changed their minds once they actually got sick. We just can't wait around for them to learn this lesson the hard way. 

It's easier to fight a virus than it is to fight people's arrogance. Those so called "Freedom Fighters" believe that history will remember them has heroes when in fact they will be remembered as one of the reasons why this virus stuck around for so long and why things were shut down longer than it needed to be.

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