Every month, a talk with Steve on various topics will be posted. Steve comes from Adelaide, Australia. He’s been in Japan for more than 10 years, and is married to a Japanese. His daughter, Sakura, is now four years old and attends kindergarten.
A topic of discussion for February 12, 2020: Could you list historic figures, say three, for whom you have high respect?
I was wondering whom Steve would list first of the three? It was Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) who is well-known perhaps for his political realism as per his work “The Prince”. He was a diplomat and political philosopher in Italy’s Florence at the time of the Renaissance. Florence was then primarily a city state amid powerful neighboring city states and above all the Papal States. Other European powers such as France, Spain, and the Hapsburgs were eager to extend their influence to Italy. Under this political environment, Machiavelli honed his skills as a diplomat through numerous contacts and negotiations with his counterparts. He had advocated that means and ends are to be treated differently when it comes to running a country: in essence “the ends justify the means.” Machiavelli is called “the father of modern political philosophy” and thus had a profound influence on subsequent European politicians and philosophers.
Now turning to the second historic figure of Steve’s choice. It was Xenophon of Athens(431-354 BC). He was a historian, philosopher, soldier, mercenary and above all a student of Socrates. As Socrates left no writings of his own, it was his students who were credited with recording his thoughts, like Xenophon’s “Memorabilia”, which is a collection of Socrates’ dialogues. In terms of his military genius, Xenophon as a commander of the “Ten Thousand” excelled particularly in retreating warfare as written in his “Anabasis”. His military legacy is still being studied and learned at leading military academies today.
Then Hannibal Barca (247-183 BC) comes third. He was by far a military genius of Ancient Carthage. The period was when Carthage and Rome were competing for supremacy over the Mediterranean. The first Punic War (264-241 BC) resulted in the defeat of Carthage incurring a heavy indemnity. The Second Punic War (218-201 BC) erupted and Hannibal commanded the Carthaginian forces invading and fighting in Italy for a period of 14 years!
Like Xenophon Hannibal’s military legacy is still being studied and learned at leading military academies today.
Do you find anything in common with the three historic figures as listed by Steve?
A topic for discussion for January 8, 2019: How would you like to spend 2020?
This time, I specifically selected a broad, general topic so Steve would find it easy to talk. Here is how it went. Steve mentioned that he would like to enjoy the company of his daughter Sakura, seeing his friends, gaming as well as achieving some personal goals. Well, simply put that was about it. I asked him when he talks to his daughter, what language is used. Steve’s answer was that it’s mostly in Japanese because this is what Sakura can understand better. He added that Sakura seems to understand English when he uses it.
Then, it was my turn. Steve asked me how I would like to spend the year. For me, this year will be not only memorable but also a once in a lifetime experience in that I will be a volunteer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games. I look forward to the games and would like to enjoy myself. And besides that? Most likely, it will be as usual looking after my extended family including six grandchildren; and I will exert myself taking care of our local community activities.