Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Today’s fiddle is ‘Woke’ and it will be the West’s undoing if left unchecked.
Busy fumbling around for excuses about ‘equal rights’ for unequal effort, the West has misplaced all understanding of valiance and honesty. It also lost sight of excellence.
The relatively new and far too hubristic ideology of ‘Wokeness’ comes with an inherent lack of labour and veritas at its core. These two characteristics are certainly not a recipe for development and have no place in success or progress.
We ought only to look back in time and observe all failed ideologies; whether they be political systems, empires, monarchies, belief systems, or leaderships. We can observe that they all contained two common elements which contributed to their downfall: superbia et otium. Pride and Ease.
Just as the Roman Emperor, Nero, played the lyre whilst the city of Rome burnt to ashes in the Great Fire of 64 AD, our neglect for our own democratic values is at the core of the laziness and pride ingrained within ‘Wokeness’.
If we were to personify Wokeness, as the Ancient Greeks often personified virtues and vices, it would epitomise a selfish and ungrateful child who has had the nerve to disregard the millennia of sacrifices made on the part of their ancestry.
The search for eudaimonia has existed amongst human beings for many years, from the moment they had the capacity to think. This search for happiness will continue. However, it will never be found by the ‘Woke’. Only by taking responsibility can one achieve a sense of satisfaction, as the Stoics discovered. Conversely, by expecting dependency, Wokeness, welfare, substance abuse, or even opulence to provide it for us, we will only encounter strife, discontent, and depression.
Cult-like followers of the ‘Woke’ movement appear to place their happiness on external factors such as identity, others’ perceptions of them, and varying degrees of personal integrity. It is not surprising that advocates of the ideal soon find their own searches doomed to failure: they lack any inherent understanding of the value of eudaimonia itself.
Happiness will never be found in an identity crisis. Governments can never expect to create peace or harmony whilst the term ‘Woke’ survives nor whilst they even acknowledge it.
Whilst the west chooses to distract itself with issues of identity or social status, other governments – such as the Chinese Communist Party – will capitalise on this opportunity to usurp what the West has discarded. We can already see this occurring.
The CCP will simply sit back and laugh as Wokeness essentially surrenders to it.
Education is the greatest threat to totalitarianism and this is why a totalitarian state will always try to remove the threat education poses by replacing it with indoctrination.
The West can counteract totalitarianism with genuine education, but as it stands, too much emphasis is placed on advocating ideas of ‘Wokeness’ – this contributes to its decline a prosperity rather than assisting the evolution of democracy.
I ask myself, what has happened to Aristotle’s Golden Mean and the idea that all virtues exist between two opposite and inter-related vices? Perhaps we ought to look back in time for the answers to today’s issues, rather than attempt to use what we might call forward or progressive thinking. Extremism in any form will always be a dangerous pursuit and can never lead us to virtue, understanding, or happiness. Nevertheless, education can.
Nero’s Rome burned as a result of his disconnect from reality. Similarly, the West may soon be forced to change its approach, having been distracted as the embers stirred into flame.
Perhaps this change will be for the better.
BA & MA Hons Litterae Humaniores, University of Oxford, UK
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