AoM Journaling Challenge Day 15: Advice from Yore

Confucius Shrine, Confucius, Shrine, Japan, Nagasaki, Scholars

Confucius Shrine (孔子廟 Kōshi-byō) in Nagasaki, Japan (2007)

Today’s AoM Journaling Challenge:

Come up with your own Cabinet of Invisible Counselors. There are innumerable great men from history who we can learn from today. When thinking about your life or pondering some question or problem, yes, go to actual mentors and friends, but also take in the advice of men of yore. Write out who you would have on your list and what you admire about them. Having trouble coming up with a list? The comments in the post should offer plenty of ideas.

I had to think long and hard about today’s challenge as I wanted to narrow down the focus of this post to the five people, living or dead, who I would want to have a conversation with. My top choices for a quintet of historical advisors/conversationalist would be:

Jesus: religious figure and founder of Christianity;
Muhammad: religious figure and founder of Islam;
Confucius: Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher;
Gautama Buddha:
religious figure and founder of Buddhism;
Ramón Emeterio Betances: Puerto Rican nationalist, primary instigator of the Grito de Lares revolution, father of the Puerto Rican independence movement.

You’ll notice that the first four on my list are all famous religious and philosophical figures. All four have helped to influence the lives of billions over the course of centuries. Empires have risen and ebbed and countless men and women have been inspired by these four figures creating works of literature, poetry, music, visual art, sculpture, architecture and many more works. While the major texts containing their words still exist today, it would be interesting to hear what each would have to say about their individual philosophies. All four espoused the well-known principle “Do to others what you want them to do to you,” the Golden Rule. In this way and others, it is fascinating to see the common truths behind their various philosophical and ethical tenets.

Ramón Emeterio Betances is El Padre de la Patria,” the father of the Puerto Rican nation. To make a long and important story short, Betances is the primary instigator of the Grito de Lares revolution- the first major revolution against Spanish rule in Puerto Rico in 1868. Although the revolt failed to achieve its main objective of Puerto Rican independence, the Spanish government granted more political autonomy to the island and Lares is known as the birthplace of Puerto Rican nationalism. In addition, Betances worked as an abolitionist, diplomat, public health administrator, poet, and novelist. 

As an advisor, Betances rounds out my quintet as one of the most contemporary members, but is important to me because he is relevant to my ethnic heritage. I would want to speak to Betances about his views of nationalism and abolitionism as well as discuss his views on freedom and philosophy, perhaps over un cafécito con un pan (a little coffee and a bread [roll]).

What I liked most about today’s journaling prompt was that it made me think not only about what historical figures provide me with inspiration, but made me look at their works. I had to really take a good look at various texts to get a feel for who I would want on my quintet. In doing this, I was reminded that while I can’t speak to my quintet in the flesh, I am not without their words. I gain inspiration from these five men and others through reading their words, admiring their art, learning from their philosophies, and their ethics. In the quiet hours of the day or amid the dull bustle of waiting in lines, their words speak and I speak back, I agree or disgree, I learn, I grow.

Books, Reading

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