Thursday, March 3, 2016

Political/ Common sense post of the month:

          Ok, I just got finished listening to Mitt Romney’s speech on CNN as I was doing some chores around the house. Understand, I listened to it from start to finish and I’m still listening to CNN now that Ashley Banfield is on and they are continuing the discussion about the speech. So, as per standard let me lay a little “Dingleism” on this situation. And this comment is directed at both Republicans and Democrat voters. There is no party for someone who believes like I do. I am 51% conservative and 49% liberal and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of debating me on a topic you’d understand those percentages. So, back to the speech. What I feel all Americans on both side of the isle should take from not only Mitt’s speech but how the election as a whole is being conducted is that all involved are horrible examples of what we as a country and its citizens strive to be. The Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot by attacking Trump the way they are. They are doing exactly what MOST Americans despise about career politicians. And they are doing it to the point that many Americans will possibly vote for Trump just to show how pissed and disconnected they all are when it comes to the needs of the citizens of this nation. Oh and Democrats, they are no better. They are just as disconnected and play on the dreams of many voters never addressing the reality of the situation. I as a BLACK MAN find it shameful and insulting that both Bernie and Hillary would use the death of blacks at the hands of police as a strategy to gain votes and political power. And it pains me to know that there are SOME blacks who are drinking the Kool-Aid and will end up in “Jonestown.” I’m not an Obama fan nor supporter, but as an educated man, I can admit and acknowledge that he has done some really good things. He nor any politician will ever do what Jerome wants and lead the way Jerome feels they should lead. And that’s ok, they aren’t me.

          It’s disappointing that many of our young have their sights so locked in on the future and the ideology they feel should be in place verses acknowledging the future REALISTICALLY and what could be, while remaining grounded in the here and now; attempting to lay the foundation so that you could potentially have that future. I would love to have “free” healthcare and college but I also have the ability and willingness to see that RIGHT NOW it is not possible. So how about we find a way to get close to that. I know we could but the problem is someone somewhere is not going to make money and that is going to be a problem. Listening to Mitt’s speech has done nothing but show me, the “average American” that career politicians (Dems & Rep) will do and say just about anything to win an election, even if it means getting into bed with the Devil. And please, I ask all to use critical thinking skills when reading this and not read or comment based on your political stance. This post is about both sides attacking each other and claiming to be so very different yet when you intelligently peel away the layers of the onion you see that they are all the same. At the end of the day they are all career politicians with agendas that supersede doing what best for us Americans. I don’t have an answer but damn, there is got to be a way for us to voice our displeasure with how things are because voting, right now, in my opinion will not get it done. So as I bring this thought to a close I am disappointed in where our country and its so called “leaders” have led us. But I am more disappointed in WE AMERICANS who have been selfish, self serving and blind for so many years that we are now all about to eat a shit sandwich. Only thing that separates me from you is that I will be on the opposite side of said sandwich. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Are You A Better Man Than Cam?

           So, the Super Bowl has come and gone but there is still a bitter taste in some fan's mouths. Panthers fans will move pass the loss as will the players. Denver's fans will take in their win and enjoy a year’s worth of gloating. But for some this is an opportunity to kick and attack a man’s character while he’s down. The man I speak of is Cam Newton, QB of the Panthers. Sunday, accompanied by his teammates played a very
uncharacteristic style of football. Balls were fumbled, passes dropped and tackles were missed, it was a total team loss. This was not the same team my son and I had the pleasure of cheering for all season. The one thing we noticed from the very start was a smile was missing from Cam's face.  That smile my son and I love to see as he plays football. He takes me back to a time when you played football for fun. With your buddies in the street, empty lot or on a grassy field nearby.
When we eventually get to suit up and play full contact ball, man… there wasn't a better feeling in the whole world. So some of us, really enjoyed it for what it is… a game. A game that we get to watch someone else have fun playing much like we used to do.  But this past Sunday, there was no smile from Cam, no Superman. In other words it was uncharacteristic behavior.

     But he didn’t let us down at the end of the game. He walked over to the winning
QB Peyton Manning and for a brief moment we got to see that infectious smile as he congratulated Manning on his win. Then he left the field to acknowledge that his season was indeed over. They had lost and it was now time to hit the locker room. It’s unfortunate that players can’t just deal with their loss. They must now go and relive that loss. They must go and talk with some of the most obnoxious and insensitive people there are. They must go and talk to the press. Yep, you lose the super bowl, now go sit, smile, and
be happy that these grown ass men get to rub it in your face; that not only did you lose, but imply that somehow you didn’t play your best, you let your fans down, and you blew your chance for victory. Did I mention that you are supposed to sit there and enjoy this? Because yeah… you are. For some it is arguably the worst day, or evening of their lives and then have to sit through it and make nice. All because it’s what SOME people expect. No, it's what they demand. We as a society love to put people on pedestals. But the one thing we love even more than that, is to watch them
fall off that pedestal, and then we relish in it. Gloat, rub it in, call names, and in the words of today’s youth… hate on them.
So like he was supposed to, Cam went to that press conference and he began to field questions. What I did notice different was he still had his pants on and wore a hoody.  There was no infectious smile and painfully he began to answer questions. Most were very short and to the point. I can understand that. I didn’t say agree, I said understand. I mean seriously, how many
times can you tell someone you lost the game? How much colorful language is supposed to be used to describe the loss? How long do you have to sit and patiently answer the same exact questions when the only thing that’s different is the way and who it’s being asked by? But for Cam there was still no smile, no grin, no gum chewing, and no
fashionable clothes. Just Cam, a hoody and a grimacing look. (Some people actually pointed out he wore a hoody as if they were quietly implying something)You could tell that he was drained mentally, and drained... physically. His attire clearly relayed that he hadn’t even showered, nor had he even processed the loss. For him, it probably felt like he was answering a million questions, and for a moment, that moment he was frozen in time. Reliving the loss over and over and over and over. Man, that’s got to be hard on a player and competitor.
I can only imagine how I would feel. At some point, Cam got up, stopped fielding questions and uncharacteristically walked out. When I found out he did this I was like “Damn, he just gave them the ammo they needed.” And I was right, when I cut the news on to CBS this morning they were attacking him. I flipped to ABC, they were
attacking him, flipped to ESPN… yep… attacking him. Went online to Facebook, comments, threads, and memes galore. All attacking him. God our society loves to take the moral high ground when it’s convenient and act like we have personally done no wrong. And what’s even better is the lack of empathy or understanding for his actions.  So it makes me wonder… how come?
           I think the answer lies somewhere in our individual socialization processes. How we are raised, the values we hold, and what we truly believe in. But those things also cause a great deal of friction when they don’t align up with someone else’s. In this instance, Cam Newton. A young black professional QB, and public figure. After he strangely walked out of the press conference, it didn’t take long for his personal actions to rub up against the values and beliefs of fans and the press. Rubbing them all the wrong way. Many would become vocal, especially when it’s so easy to hide behind a profile on a computer screen. “Unprofessional,” “Classless,” “Immature,” “Big Baby,” “Unsportsman like,”
“Punk,” and my favorite “Nigger.” Hell, Bill Romanowski (known for his dirty play) called him a “boy” in one of his tweets. (Many know or perhaps don’t know that the word BOY raises an eyebrow from some of us, especially black men) All those names thrown at a young man because at some point he decided to leave an interview. He didn't curse, didn't spit in someone's face. For what ever reason he got up and walked out. (Many headlines said STORMED out adding to the immature fire) And throughout the day I heard and read comment after comment about his “Unprofessional” and “Immature” conduct at the press conference. Not one comment I read wanted to know what caused him to leave or even tried to get a sense of what he was thinking or feeling. Not one person appeared to remind themselves he's just a man, he's human and just perhaps he was overwhelmed in the moment. In other words give him the benefit of the doubt or seek the truth behind his actions. As the day progressed, articles began popping up that talked about other players who have done the same in the past including elite QB Tom Brady. One notable player was of his rival QB for the game, Peyton Manning. A man which when people think of “professional” or “class act,” he tends to come to mind. One of the articles talks about how Manning left the field after the Colt’s loss in
Super Bowl XLIV. He didn’t shake hands, he didn't congratulate to the winning coach nor the QB. He simply walked of the field. Not much was said negatively about Manning’s actions. He was however given the benefit of the doubt and he later explained his actions. All was right in the world again. End of story. So, you got to ask yourself, how come Manning (and others) got to explain before attacks flooded the TV and media but Cam didn’t? How come we hold some players to a higher standard than others? Some will say it’s because of color, some will say it’s Cam's attitude. Some say, “He just rubs me the wrong way.” I can’t answer why any of this is. I can only speculate based on my life experiences and what I have witnessed. But I do know that in this society, some people will always get the benefit of the doubt while others will be ridiculed.
           I don’t understand what was so wrong with what Cam did if others in the past have done the same of similar. Why has he received the criticism at the level he has? Was what he did really unprofessional or immature? And if so, who defines what unprofessional or immature is? You, me, the press? I wonder how many of you have looked in the mirror and asked yourselves, “Am I always professional?” I know and have worked with a lot of guys. I’ve witnessed a lot of actions by them that to me were unprofessional. Lying, cheating stealing, you name it, I have friends that have done it. I’ve seen fellow leaders talk about another behind their back, better yet stab them in the back. I’ve seen fellow peers disregard orders. I’ve seen friends cheat on their spouses. I’ve seen friends refuse to shake hands after a softball game or fight because they didn't like the call. And I have known guys who got DUIs, and disrespected their peers and subordinates in public. I have seen many of the same people commenting on Facebook state how he was immature or unprofessional yet I know what many of them have done in their personal lives and to me, their actions then and some today are immature and unprofessional. My point is we have all done things that we may regret or wish we could take back. But I guess somehow Cam must be a better man than many of you because you clearly expect more out of him than you do your own selves. Later in the day, articles popped up stating that for the first time in known NFL history it was the first time the losing QB was interviewed right next to the winning defensive players. The article accompanied by videos allowed you to hear what he heard which, based on the article may have motivated him to get up and leave. And for some of you I ask, was it “professional and mature” of the winners to talk about him and his teammates as they did? I mean many of you said he should have been “classy and humble” in his loss. Well, don’t we as a society say that winners are supposed to be humble and classy? Or does this only apply to people we take issue with?
I ask because I know many of you do not like Cam. You don’t like nor get the “Dab.” You think he’s brash, arrogant, a fake show man who plays to the crowd. Many say “He smiles too much… its fake!”, and my personal favorite, “He doesn’t play like he’s supposed to.” Ahhh yeah, there it is. A clash of cultures. You see, Cam isn’t like many of you. He didn’t grow up
like many of you. He didn’t listen to the same music as you. He didn’t have the same idols as you and his socialization process was not like yours. He is from a different generation. It reminds me of ole "Broadway Joe" Namath and how he carried himself. Folks hated the long hair, the fancy clothes and the swag. Why couldn't Joe "look" like a football player? You know, high and tight, squeaky clean image aka the good ole All-American boy. People fear and loath what they can't understand. I grew up during a time when you better not do anything and I do mean anything except hand the ball to the ref after a touchdown. Anything less… you were gonna get an ear full from the Coach. Hell, some thought passing the ball was weak because a “real football” team runs the ball at you, aka “smash mouth” football. “Trick plays? I ain’t running no trick plays. I’m gonna come straight at ya!!!” We all have an idea of what and how the game should be played and this typically extends over to the players. But at the end of the day, I know I’m not them and they aren’t me.
So when you can admit that you can see these players and their actions in a different light. If Cam was the kind of guy to wear some crazy $800 pants, speak his mind and play the position of QB his way, capitalizing on his talents, how could you be surprised that he wouldn’t have the courage to get up and walk out of a press conference for whatever the reason was?
           Imagine you’re at your mother’s funeral. She just died from a battle with cancer and you know in your heart of hearts you weren’t the best son. Matter of fact, you were too busy to visit her the last few months. Now as your mother is being lowered into the ground and while you’re walking to your car, a bunch of reporters run up to you and start asking you questions. “Why weren’t you at your mother’s side?”, “Why weren't you a better son?”, “How does it fell knowing you were a horrible son and now your mother’s dead?” Would you stand there, be a man, a good son, and a “professional” and answer them? Now I know some of you are gonna rationalize and say that this isn’t the same thing. Well when you peel away the layers and get to the core, I’m sorry to tell you, but it is. What I said attacked your personal values/ beliefs and it’s supposed to. But I know that some of you, hell the majority of you will argue that it, and some things similar are not the same. Many of you will continue to hold others to a higher standard of conduct than you do yourselves or your friends. And that’s alright, you can do and live how you wish. Many of you could never put yourself in another’s shoes because that would mean you’d not only have to look at yourselves in the mirror but also admit… you aren’t as  “good” of a person as you envision you are.

If I was a mere 26 years old, how would I handle it? In short, if I put myself in his shoes… how would I fare? If I’m honest with you, really honest with you I must truthfully answer… I don’t know. I don’t know because I’m 46 years old. My father was in the military and I grew up an Army brat. Then, at 17 I joined the military and spent the better part of my adult life in service to my country. That and all the experiences have shaped me into who I am. But when I was 26, I was not the same man I am today. Today I question, today I seek knowledge and today I’m not so judgmental. I don't hold others to a higher standard of conduct than I do myself.  So I will close with this one thought, understand I may not agree with what Cam did but as a man, a person, and human being who has suffered personal losses… I can understand it. And that makes me normal. I ask all of you who attacked him with your words to get up from your PC, laptops or phones, and go stand in the mirror. Once there, look at yourself and reflect on who you TRULY are and ask yourself, "Are you a better man than Cam?"

Monday, November 16, 2015

Political and Social thought of the week: 16NOV15

In the wake of the terrorist attack in Paris, the weekend and this morning’s news and social media is still buzzing with talk of what we should do, how we should do it and who should be involved. For me the news and social media can be a “Catch 22.” I like to know what’s going on in my world and the world in general, but I have a low tolerance for….bullshit. Memes, comments, biased news articles, the whole lot.

Our “leaders” in Washington are taking to the air so all can hear how they have an answer to the problem and they clearly know how to defeat ISIS. I just listened to Lindsey Graham and I just sat here thinking, “How the f… did this cat even get elected?!?” His best sound bite is he’d put “boots on the ground” i.e. a ground force and that along with help from our allies would defeat ISIS. He also insulted the SOF community when he highlighted that 50 guys on the ground can’t do anything. Lindsey Graham should go tackle “Nasty Nick.” He talks as if he’s actually going to go fight. That’s laughable. Or Donald Trump’s idea about bombing them to the Stone Age. The French President’s response to the attacks, he dropped around 20 bombs on the “ISIS capitol.” Yeah…that will solve the problem. But in general, I love it when folks talk mad cash knowing fully well they don’t have to do ish but watch it on TV or hear about it in a briefing. Folks talk a good game yet how many have spoken to any actively serving or retired military strategists about how you go about defeating an IDEOLOGY!!!!! It is no different than racism. Racism is not a person or group. Racism is an ideology.

Yes that’s right. I don’t mean to burst your uneducated military bubble but ISIS is not a bunch of jihads on the ground, ISIS is an IDEOLOGY and THAT is what we have to fight. You can kill 1,000 individuals in the fight against ISIS but if you don’t defeat the mindset, the ideology…then you will have other individuals who pick up where those you just killed left off. And just how do you combat an ideology? Education…along with maturity and an open mind is a good place to start. You must be mature enough to listen and educated enough to be able to absorb the words you are being told. You also need to be educated enough to utilize critical thinking skills so that you can truly look at the ideology and perhaps see just how flawed it really is. Lastly, be willing to change and move from said ideology. Once you’ve done that, then  the real battle begins. That battle being what do you do with all those whose mindset you have now changed? And how do you keep them from going back to that or finding another ideology that perhaps is far worse? But, jobs, education…a life, must surely be at the forefront of all of that. If you don’t believe me that all of that is monumentally important, go west and visit some of the lovely and bustling RESERVATIONS that house Indians who have just done so well the past 200 years.

I’m not a rocket scientist nor do I claim to know it all but I do have common sense and enough of it combined with an education to form an opinion based on the use of both.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The End of the Week

         It's Saturday morning babysitters and the house is quiet. Jeff is sleeping, Rome is sleeping (After an evening out with new friends), Brodie Dingle​ is chilling somewhere and Clarabelle naturally is in her kennel because she'd rather play than use the bathroom. Oh, and I have to clean up her mess once again under the bed. I'm still not fully engaged on Facebook as I had been in the past. Just seems folks post less and less about their lives and that of their families than any other subject that does nothing more than keep us all apart as people. no end, drive me crazy. It wouldn't be so bad if it was once in awhile but man it's like every single hour of every single minute. The "unfollow" button has been a Godsend in some regards. People are my friends for a reason but that doesn't mean I want to here every single thing they say. Sorry, it really isn't that important. And I'm sure I have gotten on the nerves of many in the past and probably still do to this day. Oh well, such is life.
            So if I'm not commenting on your stuff like I used to, don't take it personal. I've just become a little more selective about what I wish to post on. I spend a little more time on Instagram seeing how it's nothing but pictures and who doesn't like to look at pictures? That and I have 2 boys who need a lot of my attention right now as well as my studies and keeping my grades up. Retirement is treating me pretty good and I con only imagine how much better it would be if I had had more time to plan it. So my tib bit of advice on that is if your at 10yrs, you need to start getting ready to retire. Talk to those of us who are and find out what you NEED to be doing to set yourself up for success. I did a lot in a year, but if I had had 2 or 3 can't imagine what I could have had done.
          Last week was a trying week for me. A lot of things are going on and even though we wish for the best and plan for the worst, when the worst does happen, being prepared for it doesn't make it sting any less. We all have had our fair share of ups and downs and it's nice to know folks care a fair amount about you as you do them. I got more than a few personal texts, phone calls and messages on top of the comments posted to my post earlier this week. Sometimes engaging that 300m target is a lot harder than you think. But no matter must remember to breath.
         So to all my friends who took the time to comment or drop me a message...I say thank you. The love was much appreciated. Especially the unexpected shout out from JB55!!! Love you Bruh!!!! And if you didn't worries, I know some of you have me in your thoughts but you just aren't the type to be all mushy and stuff. I have some things I need to take care of today, bills and a lil home maintenance, before I can relax for the remainder of the day. So I'm moving back into my self imposed only come on Facebook when I really need to mode.
     Take care all....and remember...I'm still watching and I will leave you with this.    

"Father I am trusting you. I believe that you are in control. And even though I do not see anything tangible happening, I believe you are working in my life, going before me, making my crooked places straight, and causing me to be at the right place at the right time."   

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

We've Come Full Circle

Not long ago I had to make a somewhat emergency drive to Kentucky after my former spouse put her hands on our daughter in a drunken rage. She was later arrested and jailed for the remainder of that day. The following day I spoke with several officers about her and the arrest. After getting back home I emailed her and told her in light of recent events I feel it was best if my sons moved with me. I offered her a peaceful solution to which, true to form it was not received well.

                I contacted my Attorney and had her file a motion seeking physical custody of our sons. I contacted her again asking to do it without court and peacefully which it would all be settled prior to Madison’s graduation the end of May. But naturally, that wasn’t going to happen. So a court date was set for 10 July. I drove up on the 9th and the next day we were walking down the side walk into court when I got a call from my attorney telling me that my former spouse had called and said she was in the ER in Bowling Green. So there would be no court and I’d have to drive back to Georgia with nothing resolved. A new date of the 17th of July was given and I’d have to drive back up once again hoping she would show up. I don’t believe she knew I was coming but I did. And around 0920 we finally went into the court room. I hadn’t been in there since June of 2011.

                My Attorney informed the judge of the motion and that I was simply seeking physical custody since the boys were both teenagers and desired to live with me. The judge was pleasant and simply told Jennifer that teenage boys typically need their fathers during those years and that it wasn’t personal. So that was that. He ruled that I was to be the physical custodian and my goal and promise to my kids of not pointing fingers and bring up all the dirt was met.

                So Things have come full circle for me and my life. I will continue to operate as I have since 2009 when all this started. I will take my family to counseling so that my kids can talk through whatever anger and feelings they have had inside of them since this all started. This will also give them a safe environment to ask questions and seek answers and acknowledgement of actions that have taken place between their mother and I over the past 6 years. So again, I will assist them in moving forward and the healing process by doing what they need and putting those needs at the forefront. It feels good to go to the gym with them and workout. It’s nice having my son helping me mow the lawn or take the garbage to the curb. My son has a job which I’m super proud of him and what he’s doing for himself. Madison starts college in the fall and she is super excited. They are all well and have adjusted to their new lives here in Georgia.

                What I have learned from all this is doing the right thing, maintaining the moral high ground and putting the needs of others no matter how uncomfortable it maybe or unhealthy you have to allow things to play out  because with patience and perseverance…you can succeed.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What's in the news today

 So the debate rages on and my newsfeed is full of stuff fore and against the confederate flag. One major argument is that the flag was hijacked by radicals (Hmmm so was the religion of Islam yet folks still hate them and are not tolerant) and that we should all be educated enough to know the difference (just like we should know that folks who are Muslims aren't all terrorists or Jihadists) and be able to separate the two (Just like good Muslims and bad Muslims).
  I don't openly talk about racism or the racism I have experienced over my life time because...truth be one wants to hear it. It's a very uncomfortable subject for a lot of folks and not all can have a mature, open and honest discussion about it. I've heard numerous rationalizations for why things happen but seldom does someone simply say that it was probably an instance of racism. Some of the defense mechanisms that prolong it: Denial, rationalization, blame, and reinterpretation are just a few. You know sometimes people act in a manner which is clearly racist and you just gotta call it for what it is. Today many groups are aware and are making others aware of the existence of personal racism in its mini- or ultra-subtle forms but you also have to be open to it. Have you noticed how racism has changed over time and how it has subverted or resisted challenges? Racism is flexible and adaptable. Another way to defuse responsibility is by claiming that all the devastation occurring to minorities happened in the past. Some white people are often oblivious to the fact that many of the same discriminatory policies of a hundred years ago are still in effect today. Just this morning a white news anchor implied that with us having a Black president, he thought the country was moving in a positive direction. I have heard this numerous times from numerous people and they are always shocked when something happens. How is that?  I've been married to 3 white women...I know first hand.
 Because if it's not talked about then it doesn't or hasn't or won't some folks mind. I have never ever ever ever had a person who wasn't black ask me, "Hey Dingle, when was the first time you were called a nigger?" Because for me at the age of 8, I will never forget the day it happened. One of the benefits of being white is that you do not have to see or deal with racism all the time. It is scary, difficult, risky and may bring up many feelings, but ultimately is the only healthy and moral thing to do that being confront it and talk about it. Understand the motivations behind it and the power it has.
 This weekend and the following weekends when you have people over, take a honest minute and look around. How many people that don't look like you are at your home?  How many kids that don't look like your kids are always over at your house? If you have teenagers...what do their friends look like? I could go on and on with questions but you may understand what I'm saying. Which is, what does your circle of friends look like?
 Almost everyone knows I was a post level Equal Opportunity Advisor and I was the led for the Unit level course and facilitators course for 3 years. I wasn't always well liked by some blacks when I had the position because I have always called it like I saw it and wasn't quick to jump on their side when they felt they were being discriminated against by a leader. I am the last guy you will ever see "playing the race card" but you can bet after I dissect a problem or issue and I have exhausted all other explanations if it's racist, sexist or what ever I'm going to call it like I see it.
 So babysitters, this will likely be my final post on this subject as it's pretty clear no one wants to REALLY discuss the topic of racism and all the ugliness that it brings. because like everything in life, if you don't talk about it, it will miraculously go away. Folks need to will never ever go away.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Truth about the Spartans

 For my research paper in Western Civilization I (which I received an 88% on) I decided to do it on the Spartans. Ever since 300 everything is Spartan this or Spartan that. But were the Spartans really all that? So I decided to find out.

   In 1998 comic book artist, writer and graphic novelist Frank Miller, known for his work with The Dark Knight, Daredevil and Wolverine published a graphic novel titled 300. In 2007, Frank Miller’s graphic novel was brought to the big screen in the major motion picture 300. It was a box office smash. Prior to the movie, I knew nothing of Sparta or the Spartans and honestly, I had no interest in them. After the movie, as a Soldier, I was captivated by the idea of a culture whose citizens were warriors to the core. And within the military community, many units quickly adopted images and the name “Spartans” for their respective unit’s nickname. A friend I know even refers to his son as “The Spartan Child.”  During the first few classes in my Western Civilization class, I was exposed to some interesting facts about the Spartans and the Persians. My curiosity was peaked and I wanted to know what was true and what was “Hollywood” when it came to the portrayal of the Spartans. How were they able to have a society purely made up of warriors? Did they really discard less desirable children like in the movie? Did they build homes, farm and hunt? And most importantly, did 300 Spartans take on the entire Persian Army? I desired to know the true history about the Spartans, as well as life within their society.

   Movies take liberties when telling stories and at times this can serve as a tool for you to question and seek the truth, and expand your knowledge on the subject. Sparta, known today as Laconia, was located on the southern tip of Greece and is roughly 100 miles south west of Athens. It is surrounded by mountains to the north, east and west. What’s generally known of the Spartans is that they were a militaristic society, amazing warriors and just hard as nails which is true. Members of the Spartan society were socialized into this militaristic way of life, which began directly after birth. Boys and girls were taken in front of the elders, known as the Gerousia and their the child was viewed and thoroughly inspected. If the Gerousia felt the child did not meet their criteria, they were discarded. In short, they were killed. Children that passed the inspection were given a bath in wine and returned to their parents where they could grow up strong and taught to fear nothing (McCutchen, 2000).  At the age of 7, boys were indoctrinated into a program which focused on survival, fighting, self-reliance and physical fitness to name a few. This program was called the Agoge. In the movie they briefly mention the Agoge through dialogue and visual references but nothing in great detail. The Agoge was a state run and sponsored program which all boys entered; as part of the training, young boys would be thrust out into society where they had to fend for themselves which included stealing food since the boys were not fed. It was believed that by starving a Spartan boy spiritually, you would make him tall and strong because eating too much would make him short and fat. When fighting for food, resources, or mere sport, these fights could turn brutally violent. The Agoge conditioned the boys physically and mentally sending them down the path to becoming a Spartan warrior.

   During the Agoge they were constantly watched and evaluated. For example, if a boy was caught stealing, he was beaten and punished. What’s interesting is that he wasn’t punished for the crime of stealing, he was punished because he was caught or seen stealing. At the age of 12, their official military training began at the hands of older Spartan warriors. These men were seasoned, in their early 20’s and held the title of Iren. The boys were under the direct supervision and tutelage of their Iren until they reached the age of 18 at which time they were considered men.

 What isn’t generally known is the two groups that supported the Spartan’s way of life; those two groups being the Helots and the Perioeci. This is how were they able to have a society purely made up of warriors. This is why they didn’t farm, hunt or even build homes. “Because Spartan men were professional soldiers, all manual labor was done by a slave class, the Helots (Staff, 2015).” Well in most societies when folks aren’t doing the manual labor they typically have slaves doing it. Like other societies, they fought and conquered other areas which led to their massive slave contingent called the Helots. Calling them “slaves” depended on who you asked as some referred to the Helots as slaves and other considered them a class in-between slave and free men. The Helots, which means “captives,” originated from two major areas: Messenia, which is west of Sparta and Laconia, which was to the south of Sparta. Helots did all the farming and were required to give up portions of their harvest to Sparta. They also supported the Spartan society in roles such as military aids, servants and nurses, just to name a few of the unskilled jobs they maintained. Since they greatly outnumbered the Spartans, the ratio was 7 to 1, there needed to be a way of keeping all of these Helots in check.

   “The teenage boys who demonstrated the most leadership potential were selected for participation in the Crypteia, which acted as a secret police force whose primary goal was to terrorize the general Helot population and murder those who were troublemakers. At age 20, Spartan males became full-time soldiers, and remained on active duty until age 60 (Staff, 2009).” Typically around the age of 16, they were selected for admission into the Crypteia. As Crypteia, the young men were given free rein to do as they pleased in order to keep the Helots in line. This included beatings, intimidation tactics and even humiliation. For example, the members of the Crypteia would often get the Helots intoxicated and make a mockery of them in the streets. This also served as a lesson to members of the Spartan society as how not to act, especially in public. Helots who were smart, rebelled or was showed the potential to be an upstart, were dealt with quickly. The Crypteia were ruthless and to grasp the extent and the power they were granted, typically once a year in the fall, they were allowed to kill a Helot and suffer no consequences (Staff, 2009). The Spartans did appreciate that a live slave was much better than a dead one. And though they were treated brutality, they ensured that the Helots were able to continue to support their way of life.

   With the Helots doing the day to day tasks within the society, the Spartans needed someone to create and furnish their weapons. This task was performed by another group, the Perioeci. Their stance within the Spartan society was strange yet unique. Unlike the Helots, the Perioeci, which means “dwellers-around,” were free men who lived primarily in the highlands and beach areas. They did have the ability to move freely to other areas and countries where the Helots and average citizens of Sparta were not. They also served as a buffer between the Helots, Spartans and other Greeks.

   There is a scene in the movie where King Leonidas’s wife, Gorgo, interrupts during his conversation with the Emissary from the Persian Army at which the Emissary protests and asks her what gives her the right to speak during a man’s conversation. Her reply was short and quick, “Because only Spartan women give birth to real men!” Now hearing that in a movie, it can be dismissed as good writing or a great movie quote. But it seems that the comment was spot on for its depiction of a Spartan woman’s attitude and demeanor. “The Spartan women were good judges of manhood. A foreign lady once remarked to the wife of a Spartan commander that the women of Sparta were the only women in the world who could rule men. "We are the only women who raise men," the Spartan lady replied (McCutchen).” We know the men who were conditioned at an early age and it appears that the women were too. It was believed that to bare a future Spartan warrior, women needed to be strong and fit. Not only were the women expected to be mentally strong but they also exercised and presented a very fit appearance. Unlike women in other areas of Greece, Spartan women were well read and educated in music, philosophy and the arts. A strong and healthy mother resulted in a strong and healthy child was their philosophy. Girls were also paraded in front of boys nude. That way they could be shamed into staying fit if they indeed were not as fit as their peers or if they appeared fat (Legends & Chronicles, 2007). Girls were also taught to fight and wrestle as these skills were passed on from mother to daughter. I can only imagine this mentality in today’s society.

   At the age of 18, females were given physical tests and once they passed, like their male counterparts, they were considered citizens and could look forward to marriage. But the most important thing was they could now bare Spartan children. If and when a woman decided to marry she was whisked away by her friends (bridesmaids) to a secret location (Staff, 2009). Once there they would shave her head, dress her in men’s clothing and she would await her husband. Once married, the two would meet in secret for years with him sneaking out from his military barracks so that he could be with his wife. At the age of 30, he would leave the barracks and they could live together. Sneaking out of the barracks wasn’t allowed and getting caught resulted in severe punishment like when he was young. Again, punishment wasn’t instituted because he snuck out, but because he was caught sneaking out or back in. “Marriage was important to Spartans, as the state put pressure on people to have male children who would grow up to become citizen-warriors, and replace those who died in battle. Men who delayed marriage were publically shamed, while those who fathered multiple sons could be rewarded. (Staff, 2009)

   The Battle of Thermopylae, or known to the masses as 300 was a battle in which 300 Spartan warriors accompanied their king, King Leonidas, in an attempt to stop the Persian Army from advancing south to Athens. 300 Spartans fought and gained access into history. But just how much of the portrayal in the movie was accurate? As explained, there is a lot more to the story and culture of the Spartans than revealed in the movie. Leonidas didn’t leave Sparta with just 300 Spartans serving as his personal body guard, enroot to the “Hot Gates,” the scene of the epic battle. There were actually 6,000 to 7,000 Greeks who accompanied the 300 plus Spartans as they moved north east to meet the Persians and stop their advance. The Greeks and Spartans held their own until a Greek told King Xerxes of a pass that would take them around and through the mountains which would allow them to attack Leonidas’s forces from the flanks and rear. Leonidas realized that the Persian Army had begun to maneuver on them and some of the other Greek fighters; knowing what was surely to happen, retreated. Leonidas then decided he’d send the majority of his men back to Sparta and only 300 Hoplites remained at his side (Staff, 2009). Yes, all male citizens of Sparta were warriors, however not all were Hoplites. The characters seen in the movie or what is typically visualized when someone says a “Spartan” were actually the Hoplites. They were considered the cream of the crop and they fought using shields, spears and swords; famous for using a tactical formation called a Phalanx. In this formation each man uses his shield to form a wall and was linked in with the man next to him. With strength and training, the Hoplites would fight as one single unit, thrusting with their spears and protecting with their shields. However this formation was vulnerable from rear and flank attacks.

   The Hoplites that remained at Leonidas’s side were accompanied by Thespians and Thebans. They fought bravely until all had been killed. Leonidas and his fellow Spartans did receive the beautiful death that all Spartans crave however, we now know they were not alone. Like most dominate societies over time even Sparta could not maintain its supremacy on the battlefield.  The Spartans, in 371 B.C.E. suffered a crippling defeat during the Battle of Leuctra at the hands of Greeks who had fought alongside them during the Battle of Thermopylae, the Thebans. General Epaminondas, a Theban General, a year later led a force into Spartan territory and freed the Messenian Helots who we know to have been enslaved by the Spartans (Staff, 2009). As time progressed the Spartans became a second-rate power in Greece.

   Knowing why Hollywood takes liberties when retelling tales helps you to acknowledge that the movie 300 only covers the spectacular highlights of the Spartan’s. Focusing on the history of the Spartans makes for great action while omitting the hard facts, and certainly makes the story of the 300’s heroic deeds and fighting spirit at the Battle of Thermopylae that much more impressive. But truth be told, 300 Spartans didn’t fight and die alone. They were rigorously militaristic society, none which would have happened without the Helots and the Perioeci. Having thousands of slaves allowed for the focus on war fighting with no concern for the mundane tasks. When compared to today’s standards, we see that they went to great extremes to make it so. For example, they killed children that weren’t fit to live in their society and postured naked young women and girls in front of boys for the sole purpose of humiliating the flabby ones. None of this would be acceptable behavior but for a warrior culture like the Spartans it was fitting. Movies are great entertainment and sometimes they can be used to retell a historic tale. But take note that movies typically exaggerate or over emphasize charters and actions. If you want the truth, grab a history book. You’ll find it has more accurate information than a Hollywood block buster.

Works Cited

Legends & Chronicles. (2007). Retrieved 04 17, 2015, from Legends & Chronicles:

McCutchen, W. H. (2000). Retrieved April 17, 2015, from 15 Ancient Greek Heroes from Plutarch's Lives:

Staff, H. (2009, May 3). Retrieved April 17, 2015, from