Long term involvement in the civic life of society often requires continuing education and this lifelong public service can keep the mind sharp into old age. The ideals of “Humanism” were introduced into mankind’s intellectual consciousness on a grand scale during the Renaissance which began in Italy in the mid fourteenth century and in the rest of Europe about the mid fifteenth century. Emerging from the cultural darkness of the middle ages, one phrase and one word, both Latin terms, became major features of the Renaissance. These are Studia humanitates, (Studies of humanities) and humanitas (the good qualities and humane ways of dealing with fellow human beings).
The great minds of the Renaissance period were not the inventors of these terms. The great Roman statesman, orator and philosopher, Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 – 43 BCE –Before the Common Era) had used it in a speech, Pro Archia (For Archias) in 62 BCE when he defended the Greek poet Archias, who had been brought to trial on the charge that his Roman citizenship was not valid. Cicero won, and Archias retained his Roman citizenship.
Humanism became the defining moral and intellectual movement of the Renaissance. Two literary titans considered the fathers of Humanism are the Italian poet and philosopher Petrarch (Francisco Petrarca) (1304 – 1374) and the Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265 – 1321). Another dominant figure of the humanist movement was Desiderius Erasmus (1466 – 1536) of Rotterdam, Holland. He and his followers dedicated themselves to public service and restoring good literature, culture and Christian morality. The Humanists not only embraced, but built on Cicero’s fundamental conception of the two terms, Studia humanitates and humanities. For Cicero, they represent and encompass lifelong study, sharpness of the mind, decent, and humane behavior and public service. This behavior was to be extended to even those people who were conquered subjects in the land. The lives of these giants clearly showed that lifelong public service can keep the mind sharp into old age.
Not to overburden the reader with historical events, I would be remise in this post if the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg (1398 – 1468) is not mentioned. The production and availability of books for the general population had such enormous impact on human development that its impact is simply immeasurable. Books became available to people in all works of life, thus enhancing study, critique of previous dogmas, discoveries, inventions, explosion in dissemination of knowledge and undoubtedly resulting in sharpening of then minds of the people. These great individuals continued their quest and their service all the way to the end of their lives which is testimony to the fact that lifelong public service can keep the mind sharp into old age.
Our modern world has been blessed with great political and military leaders, superheroes with lifelong service to mankind. George Washington (1732 – 1799), USA; Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865), USA; Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965), United Kingdom; Nelson Mandela, (1918 – 2013), South Africa; Saint Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430) and Mother Teresa (Saint Teresa) of Calcutta India (1910 – 1997), to name a few. Public service however does not necessarily have to be in politics. Also, it does not necessarily have to involve activities in the arena of one’s discipline or expertise.You may serve on a school board, or in committees in your house of worship. May be you coach little league sports teams. May be you volunteer in the hospital, a school library or as a member of your neighborhood fire department. May be you are involved in a non profit organization as a board member or volunteer.
Depending on the particular arena in the public service, some education related to the activity or activities is required, and some level of physical fitness is needed. These basic demands would energize the person to get ready physically and mentally. The required education to be effective in the public service may be in the humanities, music, technology, natural science or social science. Whatever it is, it would be refreshing, it would engage the mind and the body into late adulthood and in retirement even as you pursue new passions and dive into new arenas in the service of others. This zeal for lifelong public service can keep the mind sharp into old age. This type of life also serves as a serious example for future generations on how to live with purpose and intention.
So, eat healthy, keep moving, exercise at least three times a week, 45 minutes to one hour per session, keep learning new things and you are on your way to wellness and you would avoid rust. Please leave your comments regarding this post. I love to read from you and even engage in a conversation about this salient issue of our time across the whole spectrum of mankind, i.e. “TRUE PUBLIC SERVANTS”. Incorporating the information in the materials obtained through the links in this blog post into your philosophy of life can also enhance your effort to avoid mental rust. The ads on the right side of this page deal with physical and mental fitness, exercise equipments and tools, healthy diets, books on healthy living, wellness and wellbeing. Please feel free to check them out. I look forward to your comments about this post.