May 9, 2014

the resistance in suffering

     Those who are not aware of the Battle of Thermopylae would do well to learn about it not for just its historic significance but also its significance on the Will of the human spirit (and no, that movie 300 doesn't even come close).  In a nutshell, the Persian king Xerxes had assembled a massive army which grew daily as his conquests of Asia, the Mediterranean and northern Africa continued.  His sight was set on Europe next.  Standing in the way was the small country of Greece - the birthplace of western thought which includes our republic, our sense of liberty, our morals, nearly every major philosophical building block of the Western World.  Only, these wonderful ideas of freedom were only just beginning to bud and branch out at the time.  They had not yet sufficient time to grow, much less spread and the Persian army was about to wipe away that potential in one fell stroke.  Sparta sent 300 of its most skilled and noble army who had already given birth to a son to resist the massive army of Persia.  There would be no retreat in order to give time for the rest of Greece to marshal its forces.  The King of Sparta sought to make his stand at the hot springs of Thermopylae as it narrowed and would lessen the great advantage of the Persian's superior numbers. 
     Shortly before the battle began, an envoy from the Persians were sent to the Greeks.  They offered the Spartans wealth and fame beyond their wildest dreams if they would only bend their knee.  In exchange, they must lie down their weapons.  The reply King Leonidas gave was extraordinary in its bravery and brevity.  He merely said, "MOLON LABE" which translates as "come and take them."  He knew pain would come.  He knew suffering would come.  He knew death would come.  He knew everyone of his sword brothers on this mission with him would die with him.  All for the chance to for their offspring to remain free men.  There is a grim determination that would say while suffering in the 9th layer of Hell, "molon labe".  Come and take me. 

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