I have theories about why we are “here” as humans.
I think each one of us has our own special thing. A gift. A nugget. A call. It might be something very large, or very small. Perhaps you have already fulfilled your purpose, or reason. It might have been the day you stood up to Bobby Clawson in the first grade, when he was picking on little Mikey McCruder.
Or perhaps, it has yet to come.
In general, though, I think the “gist” of our being here is to be compassionate to others. To be kind.
Today, I saw that this is the Anniversary of Ivan the Terrible’s death. Yes, it was on this date, when he was playing a game of chess against a dude named Bogdan Belsky in 1584. He moved knight to bishop, and flopped over on the chess board after suffering a stroke. Dead as a doornail.
Ivan the Terrible is a classic example of how we are NOT supposed to be. At least, in my little theory of things.
Why, his very name is our first clue. If everyone is calling me Polly the Terrible, I might get the notion that I am — of all things — terrible. Then it becomes time to rethink my path.
Yes, Ivan was worse than bad.
He was crowned as the first tsar of Russia. He controlled the largest nation on Earth back then. But he was mean, and unstable. He executed thousands and thousands of people in fits of rage.
And if you can imagine, he killed his own son.
It started in 1547. This was before he was extremely terrible. He was just Ivan IV, grandson of Ivan the Great. (Something went downhill between Great and Terrible, I’ll tell you.) But Ivan. First tzar of all Russia. At that same time, Moscow became the capital of the Holy Russian Empire.
In that year, Ivan married Anastasia Romanov. It seems he was pretty happy with Anastasia. But she died in 1560. He married a bunch of times after that. But I’m wondering if that didn’t start the “terrible” ball rolling.
It seems that Ivan ruled with a deep-seated paranoia and ruthlessness. For instance. The great and beautiful cathedral of St. Basil’s was built back then. An amazing building. Ivan, the big meany, gouged out the eyes of the architects who built St. Basil’s so that a cathedral of such beauty could never again be created.
Trust me. You don’t want to bake this guy a cake, or knit him a sweater. Who knows how that would go. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.
His main deal, though, was keeping the little man down. He want around conquering places. Like the principality of Siberia, for one. And then, he would assign “Masters” to all the peasants who were the workers. They were the ones who farmed the lands around the big estates. And by doing this, Ivan the Terrible set in stone the whole system of “Serfdom.” Slavery, basically.
He also created and Elite-Class Army to suppress any rebellions against this. He confiscated properties from the poor and lowly. He gave it to his insiders — his henchmen.
But there were wars and losses. Ivan was failing in many big ways. In 1584, he lost some huge territories of Russia. It was that same year, the tzar also killed his son, Ivan, in a fit of rage.
When Ivan the Terrible died in 1584, Russia was left in a state of almost total political and economic ruin.
Basically, by my assertions, this is the way NOT to be.
Gouging. Pillaging. Enslaving. Stealing. Murdering.
All. Not good.
So. Today, my advice.
Don’t be an Ivan the Terrible.
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. — Aesop
What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness? — Jean Jacques Rousseau
Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness. — Lucius Annaeus Seneca