On Being the City

I am fond of using plain, physical examples to describe certain aspects of human psychology. The human psyche is fascinating, but also abstract and intangible. Consider yourself as a city. The structures such as the palisades, the castle, the gates and the market are your body. These structures represent the environment that brings life into existence. That is to say, it supports the city dwellers. Which in our metaphor represent our thoughts. The citizens as a collective produce a culture. If the citizens get wasted or enjoy numerous brawls we could say that the community showcases an outside image that is raw and mongrel-like. If, on the other hand, the citizens are avid book readers who believe in freedom of expression we could say that they display an artistic or liberal image.

These images are not exactly you. At least, from moment to moment that image changes. Of course change can take time, but in general what happens in the city over several months can be night and day compared to how it was last year. It would mostly depend on the cities attitude; how open the gates are to newcomers. Are the citizens also mutually agreeing during assemblies? Or are they always disputing every issue that arises? It is up to you, the king, the supporting structure to decide what kind of city you want to be.

There might be nothing wrong with wide-open gates, but if you constantly allow thieves and brigands to cause havoc, it will cause the city unrest. It might cause some good-willed citizens to flee. It might also bring about permanent damage to the cities reputation. In some cases consecutive rampages can get out of hand and the cities structure itself starts crumpling down. Will you allow it? Is the city interested in expansion and perhaps developing relationships with other cities, or is the city more barbaric and prefers to wage war  against it’s neighbors?

In any case, the point here is that you are as much the city as the collective force that is the citizens. You are in control of the image you want to project and how your physical body looks like. You know that sometimes it is time to clean up the streets. It is inevitable. Just remember that by caring for your people and your city consistently you will naturally grow into an unshakable fortress.

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