DR. E. FAYE WILLIAMS

(TriceEdneyWire.com)—Historic references are frequently used to comparatively illuminate the character of current persons and/or events.  Recently I have been reminded of the saying, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned!” In truth, Nero didn’t fiddle He, in greatest likelihood, played a lyre, a stringed instrument best described as a hand-held harp.  Important in this reference is not the description of a lyre. What is important is the lack of action of the Emperor Nero.

Nero’s rule is associated with tyranny, corruption, extravagance, debauchery and emotional instability. He is most infamous for the executions of Agrippina, his mother, and Octavia, his wife.  Several executions that he ordered were justified by false revisions of the truth, and yes, he was a known liar. Although some question its accuracy, many Romans are said to have believed that Nero started the Great Fire of Rome to clear space for his planned palatial complex—his Golden House. To remove suspicion from himself, it is said that he blamed Christians for setting the fire and began brutally executing many of them. Whatever the truth of the matter is, contemporarily, Nero is dramatically depicted as a self-absorbed, narcissistic maniac.

Now fate presents another catastrophe of the magnitude of the Great Fire of Rome—Hurricane Maria. This storm, with strength and size rarely seen in this hemisphere, has devastated and fundamentally changed the history of Caribbean islands for decades.  My heart and prayers go out to all affected by Hurricane Maria (and Hurricane Irma). Specific to current concerns are the 3.5 million plus Americans on the islands of Puerto Rico, Vieques and the U.S. Virgin Islands that have been overwhelmed in the aftermath of Maria and who lack the immediate support and recovery assistance afforded hurricane victims in the Houston area and in Florida.

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