Spring is the most beautiful time of the year. It’s that time when the sun is shining, the birding are singing and the flowers are blooming. It brings forth the renewal of life from the harsh cold winter; right before Summer and all those ‘Suns out, Guns out’ posts that plague social media outlets.
Sumeria was by far amongst the oldest known civilizations to exist. It was located near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what was earlier known as Mesopotamia. Today, this region is encompassed by nations like Iraq, Kuwait, Eastern-Syria and smaller portions of Turkey and Iran. ‘Iraq’ actually derives it’s name from the ancient Sumerian city of ‘Uruk’.
The Sumerians were a pretty enigmatic and awesome bunch. They had the world’s first ever language and writing in the form of pictographs and eventually cuneiform. The world’s first book -‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’; is a compilation of Sumerian heroic tales. They are also credited with the invention of the wheel, without which no modes of modern day transport would be possible. In addition, they had basic mathematics based on units of 60, a system we still use to this day . (60 secs- 1 min, 60 min – 1 hour etc)
Adept in astronomy, having had knowledge of heavenly bodies millennia before the first telescope was even invented; they also came up with irrigation and agriculture; marking the first city- based society that made the transition from our nomadic hunter-gatherer ancestors to farmers & harvesters.
The first coded forms of Law & Order found in the Babylonian ‘Code of Hammurabi’ all seem to derive from older Sumerian Laws.
The Sumerians would go on to pave the way for the Akkadian and Babylonian empires. What really got my attention was the ‘Akitu’ festival of Babylon. Akitu was the New year celebration of Spring and the harvest of Barley. They called it the ‘Res-Sattim’ or beginning of the year.
During the Akitu festival, a ceremony known as ‘The humbling of the King’ was practiced. In it, the King was brought before priests and the public . He was then removed of all his golden robes, walking staff , crown etc. and was slapped with a force so hard; that tears would roll down from his eyes. If there were no tears, the ceremony wouldn’t be complete and it was considered a bad omen for the King and his leadership.
They did it to remind both the King and his subjects that without his crown, robes and ornaments, he was a mere mortal; a servant of the Gods and the people. On any other day, he might have been overflowing with power but on this specific day; the humiliation and the pain were to bring him ‘Back to Earth’ and remind him of his duties and responsibilities to the people. Spot on if you ask me!
In light of recent political events around the world and since time immemorial, how often have ‘We the people’, had the feeling to hit and humble all those politicians who have had great power bestowed onto them by us and have forgot that with it, comes an even greater responsibility towards us?
How many instances have we seen that the people we elect and appoint to serve us (because that’s what civil servants are supposed to do; serve the people) fend for only themselves, while the rest of us suffer the consequences?
I’m not advocating for any form of violence against them but I do believe that everybody needs to wake up to the realities of the society we have created for ourselves. Revolutions start as thoughts in the mind but without any action, they turn futile.
As the season of Spring dawns ever so closer, it’s time for us to sow the seeds of change so that we too may ‘sprout’ and ‘spring forth’ into new life.
In the words of Charlie Chaplin : “Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world – to do away with national barriers – to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! In the name of democracy, let us all unite!“