On the eve of the Fourth of July, I took a day trip to Sintra, Portugal where many of the biggest tourist attractions are right next to each other, the Palace of Pena, and the Moor Castle, and I was brought back to World War I and why that war was fought in the first place. The words overindulgence and decadence kept repeating themselves to me in my head, and what happens when certain people in control quit thinking about their contingencies and start worrying about gathering more stuff for themselves.
This is what I thought while I was touring the Palace of Pena. It is a huge castle that sits high on a hill surrounded by elaborate gardens and reminders of the wealth that I was looking at. It was the home of King Ferdinand during the late 19th century, and he ruled his kingdom as far away from his people as he possible could. There were gates and large grounds that people needed to travel to just to make it to the front door, and it reminded me of certain leaders who have large complexes these days that keep the common folk away. It shows that they are above those people and that they do not wish to mix with that elements. The grounds in front of the building was like walking around Disneyland with elaborately painted walls and intricate sculptures.
Inside the decadence took it even farther. Room after room was filled with collections of fine furniture, expensive china and silverware, and the latest of conveniences such as a tub, and a telephone. It showed these rulers disconnect with the people they were ruling over, and it made me wonder what it would be like to live in a place like this. I too would never want to leave, and would start to believe that I was better than those that lived outside my walls. It was this smug attitude that brought the common man to revolt against the oppressive monarchies during the Great War, and it is a lesson that the smug rulers of today should consider themselves. If they continue with their hedonistic ways, grabbing all the money that they can while the common man suffers at their hands, then a revolt which eventually happen. There needs to be a balance between over-excess and fairness among the people.
This was in stark contrast with the Moorish Castle just down the road from this palace. The fortress was a lot older than the Pena Palace, and it was easily seen that it was built for defensive purposes even though within its walls it still held some elaborate gardens and some comforts of the time it was built. But it was there to hold the community and not exclude others if they were not found worthy enough to belong. It was not about the smugness of the elite who look down upon their fellow man.
The weird thing about the Moorish Castle was it was not toured by as many people, but I found it more interesting than the hedonistic lifestyle at the other place. I could see how the design was created for a purpose of the people instead of the purpose of one. It also reminded me of a time in history that I enjoy as well which added to the feeling, but it was the deeper understanding between the difference between the two places that connected with me more.
It was an important perspective for me to see on the eve of this important date for the United States. It made me see that the inclusive solution might be the better one. It creates a stronghold that lasts longer. It might not be as pretty, but it has a stronger sense of community because it was built by and for the purpose of the collective instead of for just one man. We need to remember this on this day. It should not be about the hedonistic lifestyles of the money-grubbing grabbers who have their pretentious estates that they run off to any time they feel like things are not going well for them. This is what the kings of Europe did before World War I and there is only so much the common man can take before they take matters into their own hands.