Choosing the Civil Story

October 2, 2004

MindShift Café
Foundation for Global Community
Palo Alto, California

Today democracy is at a kind of cross roads at which we are being asked to choose between stories. We are trying to wear the mantle of empire gracefully and to extend our power—we call it liberty—to areas of the world we have not been in before. We have been told that it is natural for leaders to lead and that, after all, this goes back to Roman philosophers and even to Plato, that the elites must gain control and exercise leadership, even military leadership, when necessary.

I want to talk about an alternative story, the civilian story, or the civil story. It is the story of how we have moved, in a relatively short time—when speaking of the long course of human evolution—from bribing the gods, to law for the common people, to law for even the kings, to non-violence as a way to solve conflict among even the most powerful interests of commerce.

I will call it the civilian story. It is different from the military story.

This Foundation is famous for its civility; when people come in the door you greet them warmly and take care of them. How does that happen? If the world is filled with the desire to exercise power and dominion, to take control, for greed and indulgence, then how did this place get here? Why is everyone so civil here? Why does this place emphasize decency and compassion, respect and inclusiveness? Those are marks of what we could call the civilian tradition. How did we get here and what is the history that includes this place and people like you?

Sometimes when we are looking for an eagle in the sky we don’t see the warblers in the bushes, or sometimes when we are looking for a red puzzle piece we don’t see the blue puzzle pieces. We see, quite often, what we are looking for, and don’t see what we are not looking for. It probably keeps us from going crazy. If we could not filter out and organize the noise and confusion that comes in on us, the world would seem like chaos. So we don’t try to keep track of everything—of the ants and the flies and the birds and the dog off there in the distance barking and when the kids are coming home and when the president will make peace in Iraq—all at once. It is too much to keep track of. So we filter and focus just to stay sane.

The effect is that the synapses that filter and focus and reinforce what we already see get all the work and the muscles that might see other things go to sleep, or atrophy, or get lazy. When we get used to suffering the little nerve connectors that convey suffering to all the cells in our bodies get trained and exercised and stronger than the connectors that convey joy or relief or relaxation and then it seems that if we get really good at seeing all the suffering, and being compassionate, we can’t even see the things that are not suffering.

If we can’t even see what is not suffering it is time to re-train and learn to see new, more wholly, more completely.

When we look at history in a traditional way we see the sorts of things that we have always seen and don’t see the sorts of things that we don’t have words for, or even concepts for. If we don’t have a word for the absence of war we don’t know what to call it. We need a better word than peace because there is never peace. Things are always changing and conflicting and there is turmoil in the atoms when the rain hits the rock. So peace is not what we are looking for but we don’t have another word so we don’t know just what messages to send along the nerve channels. And if we don’t know what to call this more enlightened condition—the nerve cells don’t send the message to the body—we won’t see it and, worse, we won’t experience it. As a result often we don’t even see cooperation, or collaboration because we don’t know what to call this condition of natural conflict with benign results.

We don’t have a narrative to match say, Homer’s war story in the Iliad which is the first literature in the western world, or we don’t have a story to match Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, or El Cid defending Spain against the Moors or Charlemagne. “Once more unto the breach!” cried Henry V of England in Shakespeare’s glorious language which was popular 400 years ago.

We usually don’t see the hundreds of cooperative acts we do every day, the way we stop at stop lights, the way we open the doors for others literally and figuratively, the way we answer the phone, the way we regularly, continuously and for all our lives assiduously avoid killing anyone. We don’t see all this because we are not looking for it. And we are not looking for it because it is not in our story.

So I want to raise the idea that we can change what we see by changing the stories we tell. If we go back and look at the human story again we could see something different than we have been seeing, just by adjusting our sights, looking for the unseen pieces rather than the common ones.

When I was growing up in the 1940s I went to a little three-room country school in eastern Colorado. We studied about the Greek poet Homer and all the gods. But we did not study about ancient Crete. There was an extraordinary time in western history when people lived in an advanced trading culture, shipping all over the Mediterranean, and they had fine palaces and indoor plumbing, fine clothing, painting, pottery, sporting events and ritual. For 1,000 years on the islands of Crete and Thera these people painted potteries and frescoes and made tiny seal rings with elaborate carvings of everyday life. We have these artifacts by the thousands. They picture women at the center, dressed to the nines, dragonfly necklaces, jewelry, flowers growing all around, monkeys swinging, swallows kissing, men bringing gifts and in not one of these pictures is a man harming a woman, nor are there any pictures of men at war.

But we did not know about all this, we did not look for this in our histories in the 1940s in my little three-room school, and so we studied the Odyssey, what it means to be a hero in war, what it means to be a good wife, like Penelope, staying home and waiting 20 years for her man to come home. We were still studying those stories 2,800 years after they were written. But we did not study the time when women were pictured at the center or even consider the possibility that there was a time when a culture did not glorify war. Many scholars today say that these pictures, the paintings, the pots, the seals, must be an aberration, that if we dig more we will find pictures of men spearing women just as in classical Greek pictures and that someday there will be ample evidence of war. They argue that the evidence we might find, conceivably could find, is stronger than the evidence we have actually found. It is logically very unsafe to think like this but it shows how attached we become to seeing the evidence the way we have always seen it, not wanting to see what we have not seen before.

Homer and the early Biblical stories were our earliest literature and they make a great deal out of war and conflict and heroes. They were set between 1,300 and 750 BCE and they ushered in a decisive change. They set out new rules, after Crete, for civilization. (Crete had been destroyed by a devastating volcano in 1,500 BCE.)

The first of these new rules were for dealing with the gods. They were nature gods: gods of the thunderbolt, the earthquake, the sun and death. The rules for gods were bribes. That is what sacrifices were all about. Whenever Greeks killed the calf or the goat they were supposed to give the best meat to the gods. Some heroes in mythology got into a lot of trouble for giving to Zeus only the fat and the bones. Zeus really let those guys have it. So the first rule for a safe life was to bribe the gods to make them stay out of your way. Zeus could never be expected to do anything good for you but he might do something bad if you didn’t pay the bribe.

Today in many cultures this is often still the first rule for dealing with government. I just spent seven days in seminar in Baku dealing with the issue of corruption. Substitute the government for Zeus and you have the same equation today in Moscow or the Ukraine or Azerbaijan.

After the gods came the family. For most of human history the basic community was the coupling of two, surrounded by the clan. In Azerbaijan today, in Armenia, in much of Africa, in the patron systems of Latin America and the American southwest, the basis of collaboration was, and often still is, family or clan. We knew with whom to share food, with whom to share finances, with whom to deal, based on close personal contacts.

Personal contact to insure deals is still the backbone of commerce in much of the world. In Russia when we were working there with Beyond War in the 1980s we called it the vodka circle. I remember a night in Leningrad when our hostess—the wife of a physicist—had prepared a luscious feast of pilmeni, which are little balls of dough with meat inside. She had worked all day and the table was set with salads and cheeses and fruits and wines and brandies and pilmeni. I said, that unfortunately, I was not a drinker. Our hostess was totally dismayed. She said, “How can you eat pilmeni without vodka?” It was 1986. Outside it was dangerous to speak truthfully. She was saying, “How can we trust each other without vodka?” So I started drinking again. We were creating a vodka circle. Inside the vodka circle people usually tell the truth. Outside the vodka circle people might say anything. They insisted on a personal connection before they would talk to us, and in those days in that culture, drinking and eating together was the way to that personal connection.

In the Soviet Union in the 1980s government was still based on personal connections. It never rose above that to a government ruled by law. The last time I went to Azerbaijan, two weeks ago, I was still hit up for a bribe at the airport. That is rule by personal connection; make your deal, you get into the country. Don’t make your deal, you don’t get in. It is very personal and very time consuming. One time leaving Kazakhstan I was hit up for \$100 because I had too much money in my billfold. Make your personal connection, and you get out. Don’t make your personal connection and go to jail.

Historically, on the trade routes to Babylon and Egypt, on the seacoasts of Greece and Rome, when Phoenicians began migrating to Palestine, the question became more and more often, how to deal with strangers, people outside the family circle? It was the ancient version of people like us arriving in Moscow or Leningrad. Increased travel and trade called for something to deal with the person met only once, temporarily, without any chance for real relationship. What to do about those people? Simply cheat them?

In Homer, Odysseus was famous for being “crafty” which was another word for not telling the truth. The problem confronting the trading world in the first millennium BCE therefore was how to deal with so many people coming through who were not members of the family or clan. Should they just do what Odysseus did and cheat?

That—the problem of strangers—is how we come to the idea of the rule of law.

The development of law in western history is simply the development of rules for dealing with people with whom we cannot sit at table to resolve conflict, people who would have been outside the traditional norms of decency and respect who had different family names, or whom we would meet only once.

The larger the cities grew, the more people who ran into each other, knocked each other over with their horses and carts, cheated each other in business, the greater the percentage of these people who were unknown, the more there was a need for law to apply to complete strangers. Governments had to find a way to keep people from simply fighting in the streets.

They could not just order everyone to have a drink and invite the culprits for dinner. They couldn’t get a general peace by forcing everyone to trade a son for a daughter in marriage. Not everybody had one of those.

Law, therefore, in the long evolution of human history, was an idea to pick up the rules of the family, which had pre-existed and apply them to strangers. It was a way to keep the peace. Due process, for example, which evolved in the Middle Ages, was simply a way to substitute family rules of notice and openness and apply these to strangers who before were subject only to bribery or craftiness.

When I was working—over the course of 15 years—in the Former Soviet Union, I was often asked to help achieve a civil law society. They wanted the rules. But, critically, they wanted to keep their personal deals immune from the rules, and they thought it was naïve to consider that strangers should be accorded either the rules or the truth. Once in Central Asia I sat over the course of two years with ministers from four countries around the table, hammering out a water treaty. At one level we were negotiating the terms of the agreement, legally. For the rest, however, they were making personal deals in the hallways which they considered to be far more important. At one point things were totally stalled by a growling deputy minister from Kazakhstan. A brash woman who was working on our team suddenly blurted out to the man, “You are making me very unhappy! I will never do business with you again!” She was being very personal. The old man immediately capitulated. He understood her. She was mad. That was enforceable. All the effect that that treaty ever had, I am sure was also personal. That is what they were accustomed to and still, 2,800 years after Odysseus, they maintained a distinction between those with whom they had personal relations and those with whom they did not.

Due process did not evolve everywhere and especially it did not evolve where there had been no long tradition of trade, where the rivers ran the wrong direction, where the need to deal with strangers was not constant. Perhaps for that reason there is still no word in Russian, even today, for due process. There is no word for “fair.” They speak of a good man, or an honorable man, or a thoughtful man, but they do not have a word for a “fair” man. And therefore they do not have even the concept of due process, to say nothing of the story.

Bribery and craftiness, which were givens before the law over much of the globe, clog up the system, slow it down, paralyze it and make it almost non-functional, especially in large systems. So just to keep economies moving, to keep the money flowing, law came to the west to guarantee some equality between people who did not even know each other and had never drunk wine together.

That is how it all began. When bribery and craftiness, lying, were no longer working, they had to figure out some way to solve disputes without killing each other. Law was the answer.

This is where it matters what we are looking for. We often think of the Roman empire, the military expansion, the centurions from Persia to Scotland, as having been a big deal. It was a big deal. But it was not as big a deal as Roman law. The great contribution of the Roman empire and the contribution which has lasted much longer than its language or its aqueducts or its roads or its military power was its contribution to law. The Romans did law on a scale never done before. They managed to take primitive principles like the Code of Hammurabi, “an eye for an eye” and break them down into smaller categories, more branches, more discerning, more subtle. In doing that they laid a foundation that still impacts the law of property and inheritance throughout the western world.

The Romans had two stories, however, just as we do. One was the law story which was enshrined in the Roman Republic, and the other was the empire story. The tragedy is that gradually the empire story began to overtake the idea of the law.

In the second century AD the Praetorian guards killed one of their emperors because he was a reformer, trying to do justice and enforce the law equally throughout the empire. The guards were supposed to protect the emperor, be his body guard, but they did not like the rule of law and one night in a riotous brawl they killed their own man (by the name of Pertinax). Then they marched out onto the palace walls and auctioned off the royal purple, the rule of the empire, to the highest bidder. People came streaming out from Rome to the dead emperor’s palace to watch the guards solicit bribes in return for their agreement to protect the next emperor. A rich senator who was asleep in his bed in Rome heard all the ruckus—heard that the empire was for sale—hurried out to the palace to shout up his bid. The Praetorians bargained for awhile between the two top bidders and sold the empire to this rich senator who was named Didius Julianus. It was of course totally illegal. This was a moment when the idea of personal empire, make your deal and get your empire, triumphed over the idea of law as the story of these people.

But the story we might more usefully remember is that Roman law had for a time laid a foundation of civilization. More important in the long run than the empire was that—as between common people and traders—the courts for eight hundred years enforced the law and they produced, and made openly available, books of law and there were lawyers who argued the principles of law in these courts, as if these principles mattered. These reforms of early Rome were pioneering advances to keep the principles of community applicable to strangers all the way across a great region from Egypt to Britain. This was a region of a hundred, hundred clans, with a hundred religions and family names, and Roman law applied to them all and some of it still does to this day. Because of the early Romans, law became estimable, enforceable and honorable. And that is not the story of empire. It is the story of the enforcement of decency and compassion in human relations and reliability in contract and truth in business. Without question that is Rome’s longest lasting contribution to civilization.

Still in Rome the law was not above the emperor. And for nearly 700 years from Julius Caesar down to the end of the empire, the emperors made war and cheated one another and bent the law to their own ends and so applied different rules to the subjects of Rome than to themselves. This they did to such an extent that in the end they eroded all their moral authority and Rome became more used to bribery and craftiness, to poisons and assassinations than to the rule of law. They let their civilized story go and replaced it gradually with a story of military strength and expansion.

Before Rome, in ancient Athens, there had been democratic principles and law courts and in the early republic of Rome there had been elections of tribunes—representatives of the people— and consuls, who’s powers had been limited because consuls held office for only one year. Each city had enjoyed brief flourishes of democracy which had served in some way, for a time, to overcome local political chaos. But both Athens and Rome gradually came under the influence of war leaders who chose expansion rather than restraint. We know their names. We know it is true. War is very, very tempting and without law, when the limits are merely personal, when the personal trumps the general principle of the law, war is almost inevitable.

Roman civilization declined when there were those in power who mocked the law. There are similarly those today who mock the restraints built into the Charter of the United Nations or the Nuremberg principles or the Geneva Conventions. When a leader says, “I will not let any foreign power decide when to defend America!” he is mocking the law enacted to restrain just such impulsive personal preemptive war. We have seen it before. Mockery is an old tool. Listen to the mockery that Shakespeare gives to Antony in his famous speech at the funeral of Caesar. (Caesar had been killed by those who sought to save the Roman republic from the dictator’s personal ambition.)

But Antony was ready to give up the law for the promise of empire. He said:

The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest—
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men—
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.

The year was 44 BC. Caesar had recently been declared perpetual dictator and Brutus and his friends had killed him for it. But Brutus and his friends after all failed to save the old Roman republic. Antony rallied the masses to honor the dead dictator, to say that it had been prudent to give the law away, and so in the process the republic was lost. Augustus Caesar, who was Julius Caesar’s son, cemented the loss of people’s government for 1,100 years. In a time of danger, the law had succumbed to mockery.

Kings went on warring and cheating—like Odysseus the crafty one and the Caesars cheating the Roman Senate—for 1000 years. Just like the ancient Greeks who sacrificed to Zeus, the kings of the Middle Ages paid tribute to the Pope mostly to get him to stay out of their way and they felt themselves unbound by the principles that bound everyone else.

Which brings us to the 13th century. Not unlike today, law and commerce were spreading amongst the common people, but at the top kings were still fighting as if the laws were not applicable to them.

Then in 1215 AD on the green meadows of Runnymede, outside London, something marvelous happened. A long civil war had been grinding on in England. It was bleeding both sides white. In desperation and frustration the barons met with their king and said, My Lord King, this is it. We have had it with you taking our firewood and our widow’s estates, taxing us without notice or consultation. This has got to stop. My Lord King, this war is killing us all and the way to stop it is for the king to play by the rules.

That sentence had not been pronounced since before Julius Caesar, before Jesus. The power of kings had always been based on personal relationship; they had always been supported by personal oaths of allegiance; they got their power directly and personally from their ancestors.

The Magna Carta said no matter if your person is king, your person is under the law. The law is more than personal and you are subject to that. The principle of the general welfare—which is what the law is all about—is above the personal authority of the leader.

Boiled down, the watershed difference between democracies and all the other kinds of government is simply this: in matters of general welfare the principle—enshrined in the law— is above the personal. Caesar and Antony had argued that a strong personal leader is more important than law. King John argued that his personal authority should be immune from law. The Magna Carta said, My Lord King, you are wrong. The general welfare depends upon the law, more than upon respect for you, alone. It was a huge step in the history of civilization.

Democracy was therefore born of this need for non-violence to replace violence, not as some theory, not as some idealist’s dream of a new form of government, but as a substitute for a system of civil war that was, after 1,100 years, not working. Civil law, as opposed to civil war, became a substitute for military rule because military rule had failed. It is true that humans like the clash of arms. But in the end we like things that work, even more, and the clash of arms had simply failed, in Medieval England to settle the peace.

Four hundred years later, in 1689, in England, the Parliament had become a center for the new commercial interests, the strongest and wealthiest men of England. This parliament, after years, again, (remembering another destructive civil war only 20 years before), met and this time deposed king James II and sent him packing, completely without violence. They imported a new king and queen more to their liking and imposed upon these two new monarchs the additional new rule that the parliament was above the king. Here too came the first long bill of rights of the citizens of England, which included, at the time, their majesties’ subjects in the American colonies. So now it was not just the law enforced by barons but the law enforced by the parliament which included merchants and commoners. Gradually the reach of the law was increasing and the power to enforce it was increasing and the principles of fairness were at the root of it.

King James II had decided that rather than oppose the parliament it was less costly for him simply to abdicate. Which he did, not because of love for democracy, but for love of his head.

Thus, in the 450 years since the Magna Carta to this time in 1689, it had become clear that not only is the law above the king, but so is the parliament. From Julius Caesar to King John was 1200 years; from the Magna Carta was half that time, only about 450 years. The leaps of history were occurring so gradually that to us they look almost as if they were random. But actually they were moving faster and they were building to a point.

A hundred years later the Constitution of the United States imposed rules (to protect the common people) on both the Congress and the king. This immaculate document required that the parliament, which now for us was called the Congress, be the source of taxation and the authority to declare war, powers which subtracted from the powers of the king. In the fifth amendment it required that the federal government in dealing with its citizens abide by the principles of due process.

So there had been a progression. Law among the traders and between equal households of ancient Greece and Rome. Then in a giant leap the Magna Carta to impose law on the king. Then the parliament above the king. Then the people above both the parliament and the king. “We the people” begins the Constitution of the United States and no document in political history had ever before begun with those words.

Due process is a metaphor for democracy. It is the opposite of that personal style of erratic government, government by bribe and sacrifice or personal favor. In countries where they do not have the word and do not have the story they do not have the process. Without a story they do not devote their time to it. In Russia, they are still drinking vodka. The fairness story has not been told there and the concept is not yet working. The word has not yet been coined and corruption reigns. The old personal system reigns. They are still back with Odysseus.

Of course the civil story was not finished in 1789. In time the principles of free government would come to be extended to slaves and to women and the nation itself would come to be under the influence of international law, the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions.

And all of this is quite magnificent. Some years ago I brought a law suit on behalf of a poor carpenter’s family against General Motors. That corporation had at the time an income stream, a gross revenue, greater than that of some 80 countries. It was probably the largest corporation on earth. They had made a truck which was driven by my carpenter. When the truck hit a pothole the spring broke, the truck rolled, and my carpenter was killed. The family, practically illiterate, with not a penny in the world, sued General Motors for negligence. They had a fair day in court. They showed that the company had actually put the wrong spring on the wrong truck. The illiterate family was granted due process against the giant, unbelievably large, economic power of General Motors. After two weeks, the jury ruled in favor of the poor family. That is the rule of law and that is something marvelous, something historically extraordinary.

And so this is a continuous history, a story in which the law was first pioneered by the Greeks and expanded by the Romans and made wonderful by the English. Democracy did not arise out of some love by academics or idealists for popular government so much as from the futility of armed conflict. The most likely alternative to armed conflict, and more effective, as it turned out in preserving the peace is to give power to more than the king and the barons, to spread the process of deliberation to a wider circle. The way to slow down war was to empower at first the commercial people and then all the people. Democracy was made necessary by the need for peace in the streets and to end the wars between kings.

It is of course this fact, that democracy was a practical solution for unending violence, that undermines and raises question about the effort in these times to impose democracy with violence. Democracy was meant to replace violence and when violence is used to impose it, the effort contains within itself a contradiction, the means cancel the goals and the effort becomes simply the replacement of one power system by another.

In these times there is a temptation to think of America as powerful because of its military power, or its economic power. These are indeed great sources of power. They represent an alternate choice.

But the story that we are in danger of losing today is the far more radical story, the historically far more innovative and interesting story, that power comes from creating a civil society in which all, including strangers, are treated equally, and from our singular effort to put the law above the king, and from our effort to replace war with another form of conflict resolution, the parliament or the congress and, finally, to insure that the Congress or the chief executive do not themselves yield to the temptations of war, and therefore to put the people above both.

That is why democracy is at the crossroads. It is the idea of what is civil that is on the block.

If we return at any point to the sale of the emperor’s royal purple to the highest bidder,

or if we return to King John’s erratic personal power independent of the law,

or if we return to the idea that some are more apt and competent to rule than others and that elites should hold the power, (even expecting them to use it wisely),

then we have chosen a story which was not the founding story of this country.

All this history of which we have spoken today was well known by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and Ben Franklin. The founding story was therefore that we needed to improve on the evolution of rules that create dignity between strangers who live in cities and have a hundred different backgrounds.

The idea, by contrast, that we shall be great because of our military extension, or our economic extension, was, at the beginning of our history, rejected because it was more like the empires of Rome and therefore less likely to succeed.

It did not pass unnoticed among the founders that when Rome conquered the great city of Carthage they were attempting to stamp out the Phoenicians. The Phoenicians had, however, pioneered the alphabet. In the long run the alphabet was to have far more influence on humankind than Roman military power.

It did not go unnoticed among the founders that the printing press had dissolved the rules of the Roman Church which had justified, for example, burning Joan of Arc and thousands of other “witches” and that as books spread, as Shakespeare spread, as literature spread, that burnings were less likely and empires had become more and more vulnerable. The early American settlers were famous for carrying with them out to the frontiers of Pennsylvania and Ohio a prominent law book of the time, Coke on Middleton, and England lost her control of the Americans when she lost control of their books.

The long history of natural conflict with benign results, the civil story, is the story of the gradual practical application of civil procedures to strangers, to larger and larger circles of outsiders, because if we do not extend to all these new people the courtesies of decency and compassion we will gradually dissolve into fighting and if we fight we will destroy each other. These procedures have, as a practical matter been the substitutes for violence and therefore alternatives to war. These procedures have informed our most successful responses to natural conflict and produced our most benign results.

And so there is a choice. If we choose the story of the evolution of decency between strangers, the replacement of civil war by democracy, the replacement of private feuds by processes of mediation, reconciliation and law, the enshrinement of due process for all, and if we choose as the crown jewel to put the law above the king, then we will choose to continue the story which has made our contribution to history singular and distinctive.

It is the story of the rise of importance of the alphabet, the spread of books (and today the internet) in derogation of secrecy all of which inevitably have the effect of corroding abusive power, and all this story has roots as deep as the history of war. It has been a slow evolution and the gains, when they were made, were seldom by conquest so much as in response to the futility of conquest. The progress is measured in hundreds of years. If we choose, on the other hand, to go back to empire and power for its own sake we run the risk of returning to the futilities of 1215 of King John, and if we choose to sell the royal purple to the highest bidder we run the risk of returning to the examples of the Praetorian guards, more than 1,800 years ago.

The first two rough-hewn democratic experiments which had global significance were in Athens and Rome. Both eventually succumbed to the temptations of war. We have the same temptations in our own times, brought to us by terrorism and lawlessness. If we choose to fight as did Julius Caesar to regain stability at the expense of liberty, we will have made a familiar historical choice. But if we choose to regain our balance and remember our more unique contribution to history through books and the law we will continue to pioneer the progress of human institutions at the cutting edge. We have the power to choose between these stories and the story we choose will organize our attention and resources.

Finally, to repeat what we said in the beginning, the thing that we are looking for determines what we see. If we change what we are looking for, rather than looking to our weapons and our power, our wealth and our influence over others to determine our greatness, if we look for the extraordinary growth over these short last 3,000 years of restraints and civilities spreading decency and compassion not just within the family but to every stranger on the planet, then we will see what we are up to, really. It is a noble effort, a long-term effort, and when we see what we are really looking for, when we see the civil story, the tide is with us.