“When in Rome”
The cliche phrase roles off the tongue without a second thought; it usually disguises itself as a casual comment with no underlying malice or harmful nature. Perhaps it is accompanied by an adventurous smile or even a cheesy wink. Yet, if you think about it a little longer, the phrase “When in Rome…do as the Romans do” is just a command to conform. When it is said, it means the person speaking is pressuring you to comply without thought, question, or objection to whatever is being asked of you. And I must say that I don’t like this.
At times it is perfectly fine, and often good, to acquiesce to the culture around you, at least until or unless you have a reason to rebel. What makes me mad about it is the implication that you shouldn’t question anything first. Don’t think; just do; do as the Romans do. Very fitting that it is Rome this concept is named for, since first a gigantic, militaristic empire was in power there and then another harsh and militaristic empire, this time disguised as religion, reigned from Rome. I think it’s fair to say that, in both, not doing as the Romans probably meant arrest and/or death.
Anyway, all of these thoughts were stirred up in me by one of my favorite bands – Nickel Creek – and I had a feeling that yall might appreciate this song and this message. This is a sort of pop-bluegrass style of music. Much less cheesy and much more intelligent than either country or pop music, and more poetic than bluegrass usually is. The lyrics and music video are below. (I actually only wanted to include the song, not the video, but the site doesn’t let us upload MP3s?) I bolded my favorite stanza; I think it makes an excellent point. So, listen to the song; it’s good! Perhaps we should each make posts about our favorite songs? I would be very interested to learn everyone-else’s tastes!
Where can a sick man go
When he can’t choke down the medicine,
The old Doc knows.
A specialist came to town, but he stays at home,
saying no one knows, so I don’t, Honey, when in Rome.
Where can a teacher go?
Wherever she thinks people need the things she knows.
Hey, those books you gave us look good on the shelves at home,
And they’ll burn warm in the fireplace, Teacher, when in Rome.
Grab a blanket, sister, we’ll make smoke signals.
Bring in some new blood
It feels like we’re alone.
Grab a blanket, brother,
so we don’t catch cold from one another
Oh, I wonder if we’re stuck in Rome.
Where can a dead man go?
A question with an answer only dead men know.
But I’m gonna bet they never really feel at home,
If they spend a lifetime learning how to live in Rome.