A Post About Alexanders

This blog post revolves around two very different subjects that have come up for me this month. Their connection: the name Alexander.

English: Detail of the Alexander Mosaic, repre...

The first is Alexander the Great. My husband and I both enjoy history. While I tend to study more recent history, my husband’s passion is for ancient history. Recently we watched a four-part documentary about Alexander the Great. It was interesting to hear what different people thought of him. Current residents of places like Greece and Egypt have an overall positive view. Most Arabs and Persians are sure he had horns on his head.

My thoughts after watching it were first, I should learn more about his campaigns, because what I heard was interesting. What he was able to accomplish in his lifetime was extraordinary. And second, I don’t think history will ever fail me if I’m looking for writing ideas. I’m curious what my blog readers think about Alexander the Great. Do you think he was a brilliant military leader? Amazing founder of glittering cities and global trade? Megalomaniac? Devilish destroyer of the Persian Empire? All four?

The next Alexander is a much different man, from a much different time. Alexander Pope was an English poet, and over the past week one of his verses has been running through my head as I thought about the sometimes-tricky task of condemning certain sins while remaining civil and kind to all of God’s children.

Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) is ...Here’s Alexander Pope’s poem:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,

As to be hated needs but to be seen;

Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,

We first endure, then pity, then embrace. 

And here’s another quote I’ve been thinking about over the past few days, by Quentin L. Cook, a leader in my church:

. . . We need to be civil in our discourse and respectful in our interactions. This is especially true when we disagree. The Savior taught us to love even our enemies. . . . Yet there are some who feel that venting their personal anger or deeply held opinions is more important than conducting themselves as Jesus Christ lived and taught. I invite each one of us individually to recognize that how we disagree is a real measure of who we are and whether we truly follow the Savior. It is appropriate to disagree, but it is not appropriate to be disagreeable. (You can watch or listen to the entire talk here. He also uses this quote in another article, here.)

I have another question for my readers: How do you balance standing up for what you believe in with making sure you’re treating others as you would want to be treated?

10 Comments

  1. I love that poem, and that quote about learning to disagree without being disagreeable is awesome. It is a talent and a sign of mature wisdom to be able to do that in a crowd of people who believe differently than you.

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    1. Thanks, Char. I agree. I look at how my 3 year-olds disagree, and they’ve got a ways to go on disagreeing without being disagreeable. So do I, but at least I’ve passed the tantrum phase, right?

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  2. Amanda, I would love to know what documentary you watched. Alexander the Great, to me, is inspiring, amazing, and tragic. I would love to learn more. It’s hard for me to make an overarching decision with many great leaders to decide whether they were good or bad. There are so many angles to look at, especially in the breadth and depth of history!
    I love your quote by Quentin L. Cook. I’m remembering a disagreement you and I had walking home from school in Jr. High. I’ve always felt bad about my reaction. I’ve learned (hopefully well enough) the importance to graciously let people disagree with my own opinions as well as graciously disagreeing with someone elses’. I think it’s all about keeping the feeling of charity in one’s heart. Thanks for the post.

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    1. Hi Rachel! Thanks for stopping by the blog. We were watching “In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great.” It’s a BBC production with Michael Wood (more info here: http://www.amazon.com/Footsteps-Alexander-Great-Michael-Wood/dp/B0039208QW). It was part travelogue, part documentary. Honestly, it wasn’t until the second episode that I decided I liked it. A lot of it was about Michael Wood rather than Alexander, but it ended up working and it was neat to see how some places just keep popping up in history, over and over again. The version we purchased also had a bonus hour-long clip about searching for the site of one of the battles, and it was as good as the other parts.
      It is hard to judge people from history–they were from a different time, many of them valued different things, and sometimes the information we get about them has been skewed.
      I don’t remember the disagreement you’re talking about, but knowing how opinionated and tactless I was in jr. high, I’m sure I owe you an apology! It’s nice to look back and see how far we’ve come, isn’t it?

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  3. Alexander the Great is one of those people who are fascinating to study. Depending on which version/history you’re reading he is either a great leader or a despotic tyrant but all agree he was a genius when it came to the art of war.

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