“Bury my body, do not build any monument, keep my hands outside so that the world knows the person who won the world had nothing in his hands when dying“. – Last words of Alexander the Great.
Do you know there are two types of Camels? The One Humped and the Two Humped Camel. I researched and found out the two humped camel is also called a Bactrian Camel. I was just curious why a two humped camel was called a Bactrian Camel? I read they primarily inhabit central Asia. I instantly remembered having read somewhere the Central Asian Region used to be called Bactria before the advent of the Christian era. In fact Bactria was the ancient name of a historical region covering the modern-day flat regions that straddle present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Bactria was one of the ancient civilizations of Iranian peoples. It was located south of the Pamir Mountains and the Amu Darya, surrounding the district of Gandhara (said to be its “crown jewel”) to its south. The present day Bactria is comprised of different nations. This was just a pointer how a region of the ancient world is now a part of many nations thanks to the Camel I made a Point here.
Having said that in the ancient world the world was but a part of few big empires. And before the Advent of the Big Empires the Man was transitioning from a Hunting animal to a settled existence taking recourse to agriculture. As we go way back 3500 BC most of the human settlements across the continents were Hunter Gatherer societies. Just Fast Forwarding 1000 to 2500 BC years In the American Continent the Ancestors of the Inuit people had arrived and Africa, Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent were at the cusp of the start of three great civilizations the Egyptian Civilization, Mesopotamian Civilization and the Indus Valley Civilization. Europe was still a Hunter Gatherer Society and Foundations were being laid for a civilization in China and Polynesians had already migrated to the Antipodean Islands by then. Again clicking on the Remote Control Fast Forward button to 1500 BC the world did not change dramatically in the American Continent. The Egyptian Civilization in Africa had spread its influence onto the Middle East along with the Mesopotamian Civilization. The Indus Valley Civilization in the Indian Subcontinent was on a decline and Greeks were laying the foundations of the first western civilization in Europe. The Shang dynasty sprang to life in China and not much changed in the Antipodes as the Polynesian make very little incremental progress.
Let me leap forward to the start of the AD. The past 1500 years prior were marked by the advent of civilizations in the Americas. It was Olemic Civilization which held Sway in the North Americas. The Lands of Northern Africa were under the influence of the Egyptian Civilization and down south it was the Bantu farmers who were calling the shots. The Middle East was under a constant succession spree with Assyrian Empire, Babylonian Empire and the Persian Empire controlling the Middle East. Europe was dominated by Celtic Civilization and followed by a City State Greek Kingdoms. In the Indian Subcontinent it was the time for a Aryan Migration though it’s still hotly debated if the Aryans moved North from the Indian Subcontinent or was it Aryans migrating to the Indian subcontinent from the European Lands. Alexander the Great redefined the map of the Middle East following the weakening of the Persian Empire and in China Zhou dynasty was at its Zenith as we approached the Christian era. As the BCE years were coming to an end the Roman Empire had taken over from the Greek civilization as the prominent Western Civilization and also had considerable influence on the Middle East Indian Sub-continent was under the Mauryan Empire and the Han dynasty had taken over in China.
If you are beginning to yawn I promise to now take the fast forward mode. I was trying to give a idea how empires had risen and fallen in different parts of the world before the dawn of the Christian Era. The same pattern continued with internecine wars between different empires in the name of territorial gains. The Common Era saw the emergence and demise of some great empires with their control extending into multiple continents. Roman Empire , Holy Roman Empire , Byzantine Empire , Ottoman Empire, Spanish Empire , British Empire , Russian Empire Ming Dynasty, Umayyad Caliphate , Moghul Empire , Mongol Empire, Aztec Empire , Inca Empire had all their glory days before slipping into the oblivion. These empires shaped the cultural blue print of the modern world as we see it today. As you see the world was a few empires to begin with and as they disintegrated we ended up with more and more countries.
What was the reason behind the expansion of these Empires? Quest for more resources. Military Superiority was the key for territorial expansion. But Political administration was the key for the longevity of the empire. The Mongol empire was a case where territorial expansion was because of the superior military acumen of Mongols but Empire folded for lack of genuine political leadership. Some Empires were motivated by religious ideologies and expansion of religion. Industrial revolution in Britain was the precursor the European imperialism. It all boiled down to one thing more access to resources. In the end all these empires collapsed back to the same geographical entity from where the empires started expanding. Turkey , Britain , Russia, Italy, Spain are all examples of countries from where great empires flourished but today all of these Countries Stand alone in contrast to their glory days. Their expansion beyond their borders too large that they could not sustain the empire economically, administratively or militarily. I mean if you can’t become too big for your own boots. So simple to state that but so difficult to practice.
This has some lessons for us on an individual level. We all aspire to make it big in our lives. Have a great Job, acquire wealth and then what acquire more wealth. I mean if you have the ability to acquire wealth far beyond your needs well no body is stopping you. The More assets you amass the more you label yourself as a High Net worth Individual and of course the world is at your feet. Who does not want that? But maybe you are trading off a low stress lifestyle for a high stress life who cares is not Money which talks in the End? That’s the decision everyone has to make for themselves.
As I sign off I want to share a story which resonates with my subtle message in this article.
An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.
“How long it took you to catch them?” The American asked.
“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.
“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.
“But,” The American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”
“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then, senor?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”
“Millions, senor? Then what?”
The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”