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June 5, 2013 / Dale Melchin

Five Things We Can Take Away from the Life of Leonidas

There are 5 things we can take away from Leonidas’ life.

The first is a commitment to a life of excellence.  The first way we see that is in his physical training.  Unfortunately as American’s we aren’t as Spartan as we used to be.  This ends up being largely a lifestyle choice.  And it is unfortunately one we are failing at and not in a good way.  All areas of life play into each other.  The more you exercise your body, the sharper your mind becomes.  The more knowledge you acquire the more you realize you need to make changes.  The greater level of virtue we attain the more we realize we need to cultivate more of it.  Exercise, read, apply, repeat.  That should be a “Spartan Law” for all of us.

The second is a willingness to pay the price for our goals.  In his training, Leonidas paid the price for his right to rule and his right to live.  In America, we are constitutionally guaranteed 3 Rights.  The Right to Life, The Right to Liberty, and The Right to the Pursuit of Happiness.

Now unfortunately in our country, pleasure has replaced happiness.  Happiness, true happiness is a function of virtue, not pleasure.  This has lead to a myriad of problems, not the least of which is a sense of entitlement that has contributed to the ongoing culture war.

Ultimately, the Spartan attitude is the best attitude.  You have to earn everything.  If we transported back to ancient Sparta, we would likely all end up as Helots and not Spartans.  Helots were the slaves, the people deemed unworthy for a variety of reasons not to be Spartans.

The moment we as a nation realize that the government owes us nothing except protection from foreign powers and lawlessness, the better off we will be.

The third thing we can take away is his faithfulness to family.  He loved his wife deeply and dearly.  He loved his son as well.  He did what was necessary to make sure they were both taken care of.  He did this in teaching his son, and then marching off to war to ensure Sparta’s freedom.

Fourthly he had willingness to give people another shot.  This is so important.  Now I realize this didn’t work out for the 300 as Ephialtes ultimately betrayed his people.  The fact was that Leonidas did what was right by Ephialtes even if it was a problem.  It also is a lesson in treating others kindly and to make sure that regardless of handicap or disability we teach our children to live virtuous lives.  Or else it may serve to be a disaster later.

Fifth and finally, the ability to laugh in death’s face and keep moving.  This takes us back to commitment.  While we may never be required to make the ultimate sacrifice this is something that we must demand of our ego.  So many times when we fail at something we let our egos get hurt instead of looking at it rationally.  Why did the failure take place? Was it a lack of skill, virtue or willingness, or habit?  And the important thing to remember is that all of those are subject to our command as we learn to master ourselves.  In the case of Leonidas and the 300, they knew rationally the odds were nigh impossible, but they were committed to stopping the persons and ultimately committed to standing against tyranny.  The same thing must be true of us, we must stand up to the tyranny of our lower desires and learn to bring out or best selves.  Once that commitment is made and we follow through on that work, day in and day out.  Our true self will emerge, carrying with it all the meaning, success, and actualization that comes along with it.

What would being more like Leonidas make possible for you?

 

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