98 year old dobri dobrev, a man who lost his hearing in the second world war, walks 10 kilometers from his village in his homemade clothes and leather shoes to the city of sofia, where he spends the day begging for money.
though a well known fixture around several of the city’s churches, known for his prostrations of thanks to all donors, it was only recently discovered that he has donated every penny he has collected — over 40,000 euros — towards the restoration of decaying bulgarian monasteries and churches and the utility bills of orphanages, living instead off his monthly state pension of 80 euros.
This guy is so… awesome. Amazing. Inspiring.
OK crying. restored faith in humanity…
Joseph Ratzinger, one of the most powerful minds alive, celebrates today his 86th birthday.
He was born on 16 April 1927, at Schulstraße 11, at 8:30 in the morning in his parents’ home in Marktl, Bavaria, Germany. He was baptised the same day. He was the third and youngest child of Joseph Ratzinger, Sr., a police officer, and Maria Ratzinger. His mother’s family was originally from South Tyrol (now in Italy). His brother, Georg Ratzinger, a priest and former director of the Regensburger Domspatzen choir, is still alive. His sister, Maria Ratzinger, who never married, managed Cardinal Ratzinger’s household until her death in 1991. Their grand-uncle was the German politician Georg Ratzinger… (more)
Thucydides, The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War, tr. Richard Crawley, ed. Robert Strassler, (New York: Free Press, 1996), Bk. 3.82.3-8, pgs. 199-200.
The more things change.
Plato does think that democracy tends naturally to tyranny, but this is closely tied to what he means by democracy. Plato criticizes democracy not because he thinks it is bad government but because he thinks it is a near-abdication of government: the principle of a democratic society is one in which everyone gets to do whatever they like, regardless of whether it benefits themselves or others, as long as they don’t harm anyone else. This principle of tolerance gives order to the society, but it is a necessarily unstable order. For it to work everyone has to agree about what is harmful and what is harmless. But there is nothing in democratic society that can possibly guarantee this agreement. Even if they start out in agreement, it would break down over time as people naturally diverge and have different experiences. In order to handle this it becomes absolutely necessary to persuade other people, not about minor things, but about the most fundamental things. Thus we have the rise of sophists and orators. Democracy becomes a power struggle between interest groups, each trying to persuade a sufficient majority that they have the right idea about what is harmful and what is harmless while their opponents are really doing what is harmful. Opinions are deemed bad not on the basis of the understanding that they summarize but simply because you can find a way to bully or shame enough people into not holding them. Only the bare principle of tolerance and the balance of power prevent the society one in which might makes right.
But the democratic city also has nothing that can guarantee that balances of power will last forever or that people will continue to respect the principle of tolerance. Sooner or later the balance of power tips heavily in one direction, sooner or later one group gets enough power that they begin to realize that they don’t actually need to tolerate people who disagree with them, and that life would actually be easier for them if they didn’t. So they stop doing it. And then you have tyranny: a society whose only principle of rule is someone being able to manipulate others into destroying those who disagree with them.