The problem with bread and circuses is that bread gets stale, and circuses get repetitive. How many times can you watch the same clown show over and over again, before you disengage, grow bored, go to your bread, but it too has grown stale?
Juvenal was wrong, or at least myopic in his statement. Not all long dead guys who said something witty or profound were right, they just said something witty and profound for their time, within the context of what their nation was going through.
Juvenal was a poet in ancient Rome, and the assertion that if you give the people bread and circus they will never revolt is largely attributed to him. I’m not saying he was all wrong, but the idea that you can put off dealing with the hard issues indefinitely by doling out bread and circus proved itself to be a lie given that the Roman empire collapsed shortly after he wrote his satirical prose.
Bread and circuses may keep the people distracted for a season, it may cause them to miss the passing of new and important legislation because they were busy cheering on the clouds, but save for God, nothing lasts forever, and the docility of the masses is always short-lived, even if the bread is freshly baked and the entertainment is engaging.
You might clap along with all the other trained seals when you see an elephant balance a ball on its head, or a miniature horse jump through a hoop, but the joy of it all begins to sour quickly when on your way home you have to hopscotch over human filth and pull dirty hypodermics from the soles of your feet.
Eventually you start to see the circus for the mockery that it is, because while you laughed and applauded and ate a crust of bread, your nation became less safe, your family more vulnerable, and the constant nagging feeling that all it would take to make it all come crashing down is nothing more than a strong breeze won’t go away no matter how loud and raucous the clowns get.
Then reality sets in, and with it a sense of bitterness, because you begin to realize who the clowns are underneath all the makeup, that you are paying them to do something wholly different than what they’ve been doing, and the crusts of bread they so enthusiastically throw into the crowd was made with your money then sold back to you at an inflated, extortionate rate.
It takes a moment, an instant, a breath for the perception to shift, and for the crowds to go from laughing to jeering. Because they are clowns, and their bag of tricks is empty, even though they can sense the shift, the unease, the tension, all they can do is what they’ve always done, only louder and more cringe-worthy, because the red bulbous noses have become hackneyed, and they’re all out of bears in tutus, and pies they can fling at each other.
This isn’t how you keep people from revolting; this is what drives people to revolt. The clowns just aren’t funny anymore, and the adults in the room need to strap on their big boy pants and start fixing what the clowns have so systematically attempted to destroy, or risk becoming a carbon copy of countless other empires which have fallen throughout the centuries.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.