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WNAJR5

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As war rages in Ukraine, the anniversary of a catastrophic event for the Christian world – specifically that of the Eastern Orthodox Church – is upon us. That event took place 569 years ago on May 29, 1453. It is an event little noted or remembered in the Western world, yet it almost resulted in the downfall of Western Civilization. Only the bravery and tenacity of the Orthodox Christians of the Balkans and a brave and wise Polish king and his cavalry prevented the total fall of Western Civilization that began that May 29, 1453. That catastrophe, that slaughter, which nearly ended Western Civilization and did little or nothing for the victorious Muslim Ottoman Turks, still haunts the world today.

In Ukraine the battle is also religious, between Ukrainian Orthodox Christians and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch. Defending the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful is the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew.

The disaster to which I refer is the Fall of Constantinople, “The City” (in Greek “ steen polis” - where the Turks get “Istanbul”) to the Ottoman Turks. It is only one of two nations' capitals still occupied by the conquering enemy. In 1453 it was the Ottoman Turks at Constantinople. In 1974 it was the Turkish Army’s invasion of Cyprus and part of its capital, Nicosia. Now, the new “Ottoman Emperor” want-to-be, Mr. Erdogan, as well as the new “Russian Czar'' want-to-be, Mr. Putin, and the Patriarch of Russia – who wants to be head of all the Eastern Orthodox Churches and have Moscow be considered “The Third Rome” after Rome and Constantinople - are ganging up on the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, which the West ignores.

What has caused the ire of the Russian Patriarch – Putin’s puppet – and Putin himself is the fact that Patriarch Bartholomew has granted the Ukrainian Orthodox Church its independence, autocephaly, from the Russian Patriarch. This action gives further fallacy to Putin’s fantasy that Ukraine is not - nor ever has been -an independent nation.

For Erdogan the goal is to divide and destroy the Orthodox Church because it is the mainstay, the bulwark, against Turkish dominance and return to the Balkans in strength. And, 569 years after Constantinople was conquered through slaughter, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch remains resolute in his small corner of occupied Constantinople.

While not using military force, Erdogan is using economics and threats of more refugees to be unleashed on the Balkan E.U. nations, specifically Greece. It is his way of destabilizing the region. For Putin, Erdogan’s actions stir a hornet’s nest in an area well known for inter-ethnic religious wars. The U.S. and NATO still have troops in Kosovo and Bosnia Herzegovina three decades after NATO’s war against Serbia. Northern Macedonia has its issues between Muslims and Christians. Kosovo continues to be unsettled and prone to regional violence and the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Kosovo. Bosnia, well, that is one big mess that may soon divide into three. Wouldn’t it be something if NATO had to worry about its southern borders and stay another three decades?

Westerners, should they even know of the event, must wonder how and why people in the 21st century would care about something that happened 569 ago. Greeks care because they know that it presaged nearly 400 years of slavery and subjugation to a brutal and inept, uncaring regime. Tragically it saw the theft, and blasphemous use, of the greatest cathedral in the Western world at the time - Hagia Sophia - as a mosque and then turned into a museum. And now, Erdogan has turned it back into a mosque for political benefit. Finally – one hundred years ago – the ethnic cleansing of Asia Minor of almost all its Greek and Armenian Christians by the modern Turkish nation began.

Greece now accepts as refugees the same people - the Kurds - that helped Turkey destroy Greek and Armenian Christian communities in Asia Minor. That’s because the Turks, having removed everyone else not Turkish from occupied Asia Minor, are now trying to eliminate the Kurdish language and culture in Turkey and destroy the free Kurds in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq. Erdogan is also now threatening Swedish and Finnish entry into NATO, at the same time he buys anti-aircraft weapons from Russia, which will be a security nightmare for NATO air forces.

And someone might inform Mr. Putin that Odessa, in the Crimea, was first Greek, with an ancient Greek settlement from the middle of the 6th century B.C. and that its name comes from the ancient Greek city of Odessos. Later Odessa was a place of refuge for the Greeks that survived the slaughter that came from the conquering of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Eventually it was an Ottoman Turkish outpost - where they could capture European Christians to be slaves in Harems or rowers in slave ships - and finally Russian after the Russo-Turkish War in 1792. In 1795 the German born Russian Czarina, Catherine the Great, established the city using “The Greek Plan”.

The people of Ukraine are suffering, and very soon so many of the world’s food challenged will be suffering as well, due to a narcissistic megalomaniac who wants to recreate the Russian Empire and a sort-of sidekick who wants to recreate the Ottoman Empire. Unlike at Constantinople on May 29, 1453, the Western world has finally seen the threat and is reacting and has come to Ukraine’s defense. Of sorts. How long the West will be willing to continue the cause and when they will perceive that cost to be too high, only time will tell.

The Ottomans continued successfully until Vienna in 1683. That was the Ottoman high water mark. The Western Christians - Lutherans and Roman Catholics - had come together to save the West. The Greek and other Balkan Orthodox Christians were left to suffer until 1821 when Greeks rose up - again - and gained their freedom. There would be wars between Ottoman Turks and the Russian Empire which continued until the Crimean War, which Russia lost and which depleted its army. It also saw Russian naval vessels banned from ports in the Black Sea. A possible outcome for soon to be defeated Russian forces?

Forgetting or ignoring history can come back and bite one. Putin, Erdogan, and we in the West had best remember this. And how the Fall of Constantinople 569 years ago still impacts us all.
 

My Top Favorite Greek Philosophers

There are too many philosophers to count, but these are the ones I am studying at the moment. It's fascinating to me how influential the Greek philosophers are. Here's some things I am learning:

#1 Socrates

If philosophy had a poster boy, Socrates might very well be it. The father of Western philosophy, Socrates was a gadfly to Athenian society, questioning everything and Master to Plato. Known for the Socratic Method and his unflinching commitment to truth, Socrates' influence is immeasurable despite never having written a word.

#2 Plato

Rightly succeeding his mentor on this list, Plato's Academy saw him birth the first "university" of its kind. His unabashed idealism, immortal Forms, allegories like the Cave, and the pursuit of 'The Good' in moral philosophy set the stage for much intellectual discourse.

#3 Aristotle

Aristotle, another of Plato's students, had a more grounded approach to philosophy than his predecessor. With establishing principles of logic and reason, and contributions to virtually every field of academia, from poetry to physics, Aristotle's body of work remains foundational.

#4 Heraclitus

Heraclitus, famed for the idea that "change is the only constant," viewed the cosmos through a lens of process, flux, and an everlasting Logos that governs the world. Although little of his work survives, his influence on ancient and modern thinkers is profound.

#5 Epicurus

Known for his eponymous philosophy, Epicurus taught that the greatest good is to seek modest pleasures in order to attain a state of tranquility, freedom from fear (ataraxia), and absence of bodily pain (aponia). Often misunderstood, Epicureanism is starkly different from the modern use of 'epicurean' - it's much less about a luxury lifestyle and more about ethical considerations regarding personal fulfillment.

How did the Marshall Plan affect Greece?

I've recently taken an interest in the post-WWII recovery efforts and came across the Marshall Plan, which was introduced by the United States to aid European countries in rebuilding their economies. Given that Greece was significantly affected during the war, I'm curious about the specific impact the Marshall Plan had on Greece.

From what I've gathered, Greece, like many other European countries, faced tremendous economic challenges post-WWII, including infrastructure damage, inflation, and high unemployment rates. The Marshall Plan, formally known as the European Recovery Program, promised substantial financial aid to help rebuild war-torn nations, but I'm curious about how this plan was implemented in Greece specifically and what long-term effects it had on its economy and society.

I am so curious as to how, specifically, this plan affected Greece?

Learning about the Spartan way of life

I find the Spartans fascinating. They seemed to have a different way of life!

The Spartans, known for their military might, also led a lifestyle that was remarkably disciplined and focused on simplicity.

The core of Spartan society was its military-oriented ethos. From a young age, Spartan boys were trained to be soldiers in the agoge, a rigorous education system that emphasized physical training, endurance, and survival skills. This preparation was not just about warfare but about creating individuals who were resilient, self-sufficient, and disciplined.

But Spartan discipline extended beyond the military sphere. Spartans lived a life of austerity and frugality that is quite alien to our modern way of living. Meals were simple, homes were unadorned, and luxuries were frowned upon. This was not out of a lack of resources but a deliberate choice to avoid softness and dependency on material comforts.

Interestingly, this Spartan simplicity also fostered a sense of equality among citizens. By eschewing luxury, Spartans aimed to reduce divisions within their society. Wealth and status were downplayed, while military prowess and moral integrity were valued above all.

What do you guys think about this or what can you add to my thinking?

Family Trees

Hey fellow members,

As we traverse the rich tapestry of Greek culture and history on this platform, I've been pondering something quite fascinating: our family histories. How many of us have delved into the intricate branches of our family trees?

Genealogy, the study of family history and lineage, often unveils captivating stories, connections, and traditions passed down through generations. Whether you're just beginning to trace your ancestry or have been meticulously documenting it for years, I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Here are a few questions to spark our discussion:

  1. What inspired you to start researching your family history?
  2. Have you encountered any unexpected discoveries or fascinating tales along the way?
  3. What resources or tools have you found most helpful in your genealogical journey?
  4. Do you have any tips or advice for someone interested in starting their own family tree?
Feel free to share your insights, anecdotes, or even questions you might have about genealogy. Let's embark on this journey together and unravel the stories that shape our identities!

Looking forward to our discussion,

RizeGen

Athens and the creation of democracy

I've been thinking about Athens and how it's the birth of democracy. I wondered if other societies had experimented with the concepts or if Athens was unique? Does anyone know? I know that there's been some evidence that other societies experimented with community leadership, but none had a true democracy like what Athens developed.

It was unique in developing a system where a significant portion of its inhabitants could participate directly in decision-making processes. This early form of democracy was largely initiated under the leadership of Cleisthenes in 508/507 BC. His reforms reorganized the population into ten tribes based on their residence rather than lineage, promoting a broader and more inclusive political engagement.

In this Athenian democracy, citizens had the right to attend the Assembly (Ekklesia), where they could speak and vote on legislation and executive decisions. The Council of Five Hundred (Boule), selected by lot for each of the ten tribes, proposed legislation and handled daily affairs. This lottery system for public office sought to prevent power monopolies and encourage civic participation.

I know that this work truly influenced other democratic governments through the world!

Feel free to chime in with your thoughts- I find this stuff interesting.
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