Public Life is a rich and colorful tapestry that describes a civilization, whether ancient or modern. Woven into that tapestry are the living elements of politics, community, religion, social media, education and even sports. As members of modern civilizations, we are often so caught up in being cutting edge that we miss how many aspects of our public life are deeply grounded in the civilizations that lived before us.
AntiquityNOW acts as a bridge that links us with ancient peoples and lets us explore how their ways of thinking and interacting have made an indelible mark on our modern perspectives in public life. By getting to know the mindsets of these civilizations, we can begin to compare our own commitment to altruism and understanding.
Strong democratic political systems that exist in our world today were originally inspired by the dynamic structure of the government of ancient Greece, which fostered open debate and fair laws. England’s Parliament and the United States’ two-house Congress had their foundations in Greek thought. Today, 25 nations in the world are considered full democracies, with another 53 practicing aspects of democratic governing. Even the concepts of representation and elections are being adopted by emerging nations as they seek a workable approach to governing their people.
Communities range from family clans and tribes to neighborhoods and geographically-cohesive towns. These groups possess shared interests and goals, which guide their actions. A sense of community enables people to cooperate and pull together resources for the benefit of everyone within that group. Communities have always provided some form of protection—guards, armies, police and firemen—as well as emotional support and a sense of belonging. The basic reasons for being part of a community have remained unchanged for millennia, even while advancing technologies, specialized knowledge, economics and easier transportation provide incentives for changing where one lives, works and spends leisure time.
Integral to Public Life are faith and religion. Many ancient civilizations molded their entire communal life around belief in their gods. The Mayans completely depended on their gods for rain for their crops and the health of their families. In a similar vein, Christians in Europe and America, when settling new territories, built their houses of worship first and made them central to the life of their community.
A large part of leisure time today is taken up by sports, actively engaged in by both participants and spectators. Few people realize that sports have been an important part of public life since ancient times. We catch a glimpse of that significance in ancient art, wall paintings and writings. Numerous ancient civilizations vigorously trained their competitors, and sports provided entertainment for the masses.
AntiquityNOW explores the ties between public life today and its ancient roots in civilizations around the world. When we post a picture on Facebook, attend a football game or vote in a public election we are constantly walking in the footsteps of those who came before us.