“Bread and Circuses” are what the Roman poet Juvenal used to describe the gladiatorial games of ancient Rome. In a political context, it was generating approval not by excellence in the performance of the leader’s civic accomplishments, but rather a mere diversion by satisfying our needs for a full belly and our desire to be entertained.
There is no doubt that this happens still to this day in our country, but perhaps whats worse is that we willfully do it to ourselves.
How many of you follow that sports team or that TV show (even worse so reality TV) and react in a visceral and emotional response to what you see on your screen?
How often has your day, week, and sometimes an entire season of your life been ruined by the lack of success of a team you don’t even play on?
But why? Why do we allow ourselves to get this emotionally involved in someone else’s story?
It’s quite simple, really; It keeps us from admitting that we aren’t living ours.
Like the Romans, you see, we enthusiastically devour all the bread and circuses thrown our way. We dive deep into binge-watching, often hours at a time, the latest Netflix drama. Every Sunday, we give up our entire Sunday to watch every single game that comes on only to turn around and complain we don’t have enough time to chase our dreams.
And in doing so, we find ourselves in a very odd paradox; we willingly chose to fail.
“There is no Ark, because no one built one, even though everyone felt the storm.”- Jordan B. Peterson
We know all the things we must do.
The hard things, but the right things.
We know we should take the time to show love to our spouse.
We know we should take the time to play with our kids.
We know that we should work out.
We know that we should eat healthily.
We know we should chase our dreams.
Ah, but Stranger Things debuts next week, and you can watch the entire season in one gluttonous setting. Or, from pre-game to post-game, we can plant ourselves on our couch every Sunday, lifting a finger only to move the beercan to our mouth and getting up when our bladder compels us too.
Instead of taking part in our lives-our victories and our defeats, we find the couch and cheer on others who do not cheer for us. And when the lights go down and the crowds go home, we are left alone to face this truth. No one is here for us because we couldn’t bother to show up for ourselves.