Huge Effects Can Come From Tiny Causes

We live in difficult times. Events swirl around us in ever faster, tighter circles. The global character, the magnitude and multitude of our intractable problems leads many of us lefties to hopelessness and dispair. Many see no way out, no avenue to effect change when the all-powerful forces aligned with materialism, consumption and greed hold the reins of power and 'we the people' hold none.

Looking back through history our times are far from unique, the elites have used every available tool in every era to divide their enemies, silence their critics and supress any opposition to their extraction of wealth from the earth and its inhabitants. Nothing is new, every era of human history suffers its tyrants.

A true story from the Roman Empire may serve as an inspiration for us hopeless lefties. It's the story of The Diary of Perpetua. Perpetua died on March 7th 203 in the Roman Coliseum. She and her 4 mates were charged with and convicted of being Christian and told to either recant or they'd be fed to the beasts. Though given numerous oppurtunities to recant Perpetua, dispite her powerful family's pleading, chose a horrible death over denouncing her beliefs. She and her fellows spent a few months in prison before their deaths. During those months Perpetua kept a diary scratched into her cell wall. Her diary was transcribed just after her death and it has become a religious icon. Today Perpetua and Felicity [one of her fellows] are Saints of the Christian Church.

In 203 the transcribed diary began to make its secret rounds among fellow Christians. The power of her conviction in the face of her own death never wavered. Her story inspired the growing Christian community to follow her lead. Soon Christians throughout the Empire were refusing to denounce their belief. The Roman rulers had never encountered this type of dissent. As they marched ever larger numbers of Christians off to certain death they also secretly studied them and debated how to succeed in supressing an enemy who held their beliefs higher than Ceasar or their own lives.

The Roman Emporer Constantine, born nearly 100 years after Perpetua's Diary went into clandetine circulation, read a copy of the Dairy in 310. Constantine was a very bright guy, he quickly saw that a belief structure who handed out tickets to an afterlife made adherents immune to the usual political levers and at the same time totally controllable if the political and religious leaders and their goals were interchangeable. In 313 Caesar Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus issued the Edict of Milan and became the first Christian Roman emperor. Who knows how events would have unfolded if the young Perpetua hadn't scratched her dairy on the wall, but she did and, though a tiny insignificant jesture in a walled off cell, her dairy changed the world.