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Becoming the man or woman of a new Renaissance

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If there is an inspiring period in history, it is the Renaissance, which saw the resurgence of the glorious figures and visions of existence long forgotten from the ancient past. This episode of Western history constitutes in a way an idealization of the Ancients, erasing at the same time the defects that one did not wish to see (systemic slavery of ancient societies, gerontocracy and patriarchy etc.). Nevertheless, this Renaissance did take place and it was the spark of other movements of thought (the Enlightenment, etc.) that brought us to where we are today, namely to the modern era and the cardinal principles that we would not dare to go back on (equality between humans, the right of peoples to self-determination, etc.).

Beyond the concepts and the aesthetics that emerge from the Renaissance, we must not forget that this ideal was embodied in the famous men of the Renaissance, a term that will later have a definition that we can still apply today and that is synonymous with eclecticism. The Renaissance man or woman cultivates plural qualities in all the arts that the cosmos has put at the disposal of men. These can be related to literature, music, fencing, dance, the study of languages etc.

The vision of the Renaissance man or woman was only possible insofar as there was an idle class that could indulge in various leisure activities (the words leisure and idle have the same etymological root). This privileged class lived at the expense of the other classes, laborers and commoners.

Nowadays, we have the right to ask ourselves if we can return to such an age, but with a sort of massification of this phenomenon. Insofar as hourly productivity is constantly increasing, we can say that the population will be able to free up more leisure time to keep the same or even a better salary (this depends on the political will). Logically, we can expect that this surplus of time will be occupied by activities corresponding to a human ideal, why not that of the Renaissance, which was also an emancipation from the religious work encouraged during the whole Middle Ages (to fight acedia, which is spiritual laziness). At a time when the most developed societies are often the least religious, it is reasonable to revive this lost ideal. Certainly, this is what is already happening, the search for a certain well-being (the craze for yoga, the desire to learn throughout one’s life, etc.) and a balance in one’s life is, to a certain extent, evidence of the achievement of a human ideal.

Learning from others: your teacher is everywhere

It has been said that there are two types of people in this world: those who are examples to follow, and those who are role models to avoid.

People are a great source of learning because everyone has some degree of qualities and flaws. A quality can be natural or acquired. For example, a person may be naturally diligent or respectful, so it is essential to know how that person developed those qualities. Similarly, one can be the master of each to a certain extent. The only requirement is to be able to distinguish the model from the counter-model. The main problem is that sometimes we may not take the right person as a role model or even as a hero, which contributes to going down the wrong path.

It is important to ask ourselves, when we see or talk to someone, if we want to be like that person and why. What are the virtues we want to emulate? Why is this person so special to us? On the other hand, we need to identify the qualities that do not correspond to our own values or to those we want to develop in ourselves.
In addition, it is good to be grateful to any teacher who comes to us. Indeed, someone will give you a lesson on how to be or not to be. Also, we can find good and bad qualities in each of us, as no one is always completely “bad” or completely “good”. However, we need to develop both our critical and our grateful spirit.

To do this, we must become good listeners and observers. If we adopt this attitude, we can be worthy of being listened to because we will have learned valuable lessons throughout our lives.
A good listener can become a good leader and even a good speaker, the opposite is not necessarily true.

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