Long Walk to Freedom is one of the books I had learned some of the traits of leadership from. The other was from another free man’s long walk to free his peoples, Gandhi. Therefore, this message is apt in its timing, for that walk had really begun some 70,000 years ago with human migration out of Africa.
Herding cattle, Nelson Mandela says in his book, was where he had learned how to lead from behind. There was another cowherd, Krishna ― of the Indo-Aryan epic The Mahabharatha, the longest in the history of literature, spoken, sung, remembered and written in the language of civilization, Sanskrit in its archaic form ― who lived around 776 B.C.E from whom Gandhi had learned his sense of civilization and leadership: to lead from among.
776 B.C.E is generally dated as the time when The Great Transformation (Karen Armstrong) began in the history of civilization. The year, if commonly accepted, marks the watershed in an epoch that ends with Constantine the Great about a millennium later, the rise of Christianity, followed by the end of Rome. The mid-point of this epoch is the birth of the Indo-Aryan India, of Asoka the Great who had consummated the construction of the Hindu empire.
To me, 776 B.C.E has always been the year 0: the birth of the Common Era, C.E. Armstrong had missed mentioning Hinduism in her first book: A History of God.
We live in an age of great opportunity and potentially unfathomable suffering. Not unlike the Age of The Great Transformation, when enlightenment was brought about by suffering due to warring tribes.
Conflict is always a near and present danger. The end of suffering is not Buddhist, for it cannot be the end of desire, because desire is all too human and so is history. How to end conflict in peace is the genius of Krishna, Benjamin Franklin, Henry David Thoureau, and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The time toward this mid-century will be their next big test.
All enlightenments are followed by empire. So it has been with the United States of America. It is the ending of the empire that really matters.
Happy 4th of July!