Wealth According to Seneca

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Sertorio
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Re: Wealth According to Seneca

Post by Sertorio » Thu May 28, 2020 3:27 am

cassowary wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 10:31 pm
neverfail wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 6:35 am
Roman civilization was pagan as well as stocic. Very likely the multitude of deities they recognised and whose intercession they sought did not hold them accountable in the next life for the sins and Grace's of this one:. unlike the God of Jews and Christians.
You are right. Their gods were amoral. So they did not inspire good behavior with their human worshippers. The Christian conception of a loving Father in heaven inspires compassion but also sternness against wrongdoing.
You may be surprised to know that most stoics were theist and believed in a divine being - Zeus - who was the spiritual component of the Universe. Zeus had created everything which was necessary for people to do "good" rather than "evil" and, being rational, people would tend to choose being "good" - which meant being in accord with nature - because being "good" would make them happy, and being happy was the objective of everybody. But because people are free they could choose not doing "good", but then they would end up unhappy. The interesting thing is that Zeus did not want to force people being "good" nor did he threaten people with all sort of punishments if they didn't. The other very interesting thing is that stoicism didn't foster the need for a mediating clergy. Relations between Zeus and Man were strictly personal, and based on freedom. The multitude of "gods", popular in Rome, did not concern stoics and stoicism.

In my opinion Stoicism favourably compares with Christianity, because it has a very strong code of ethics without imposing a vengeful, demanding God. It's a very good combination of ethics and liberty, based on Man's rationality.

neverfail
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Re: Wealth According to Seneca

Post by neverfail » Thu May 28, 2020 5:09 pm

Sertorio wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 3:27 am
cassowary wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 10:31 pm
neverfail wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 6:35 am
Roman civilization was pagan as well as stocic. Very likely the multitude of deities they recognised and whose intercession they sought did not hold them accountable in the next life for the sins and Grace's of this one:. unlike the God of Jews and Christians.
You are right. Their gods were amoral. So they did not inspire good behavior with their human worshippers. The Christian conception of a loving Father in heaven inspires compassion but also sternness against wrongdoing.
You may be surprised to know that most stoics were theist and believed in a divine being - Zeus - who was the spiritual component of the Universe. Zeus had created everything which was necessary for people to do "good" rather than "evil" and, being rational, people would tend to choose being "good" - which meant being in accord with nature - because being "good" would make them happy, and being happy was the objective of everybody. But because people are free they could choose not doing "good", but then they would end up unhappy. The interesting thing is that Zeus did not want to force people being "good" nor did he threaten people with all sort of punishments if they didn't. The other very interesting thing is that stoicism didn't foster the need for a mediating clergy. Relations between Zeus and Man were strictly personal, and based on freedom. The multitude of "gods", popular in Rome, did not concern stoics and stoicism.

In my opinion Stoicism favourably compares with Christianity, because it has a very strong code of ethics without imposing a vengeful, demanding God. It's a very good combination of ethics and liberty, based on Man's rationality.
1. I have heard that the gods of Rome (there was a god on every street-corner?) only remained autonomous (inspiring independent association with adherents as you describe) until tthe Roman state built The Pantheon (the edifice still exists) as a common home for all of the gods of Rome. This "corralling" of the gods into a state temple in effect turned Roman paganism into a state orthodoxy and the gods into state property. Many Romans of all classes loss confidence in it and turned for solace to several salvation cults eminating from the Empire's eastern provinces - including the Cult of Mithras and Christianity.

2.
Sertorio wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 3:27 am
In my opinion Stoicism favourably compares with Christianity, because it has a very strong code of ethics without imposing a vengeful, demanding God.
The God of the ancient Hebrews may well have been (as you allege) veangeful and demanding but here you (convenient for an athiest-non-believer) ignore the contribution of the mollfying, transformational figure of Jesus Christ: allegedly the son of God and redeemer of all who will entrust their sins to him for absolution. Chirist has radically changed our picture of God and how He operates; replacing that of a god of vengeance with one of love; buy of course if you want to remain marooned about 3,000 years in the past clinging to the image of the old Hebrew god then there is nothing I can do to stop you Sertorio. Meantime, the rest of us have moved on in our appareciation of the devine. :D

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cassowary
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Re: Wealth According to Seneca

Post by cassowary » Thu May 28, 2020 9:52 pm

Sertorio wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 3:27 am
cassowary wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 10:31 pm
neverfail wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 6:35 am
Roman civilization was pagan as well as stocic. Very likely the multitude of deities they recognised and whose intercession they sought did not hold them accountable in the next life for the sins and Grace's of this one:. unlike the God of Jews and Christians.
You are right. Their gods were amoral. So they did not inspire good behavior with their human worshippers. The Christian conception of a loving Father in heaven inspires compassion but also sternness against wrongdoing.
You may be surprised to know that most stoics were theist and believed in a divine being - Zeus - who was the spiritual component of the Universe. Zeus had created everything which was necessary for people to do "good" rather than "evil" and, being rational, people would tend to choose being "good" - which meant being in accord with nature - because being "good" would make them happy, and being happy was the objective of everybody. But because people are free they could choose not doing "good", but then they would end up unhappy.
I didn't know this. Are you sure? I always thought that Greek and Roman gods were amoral. They did not care for right or wrong. They just did whatever they felt like doing and thus made bad examples for humans. For example, here is how Zeus (or if you like Jupiter, the Roman name) behaved:

Here are the stories about Zeus. I will just pick one for you to get flavor of the beliefs of pagans in ancient Greece and Rome:
#3 ZEUS AND HERA
Hera was one of the sisters of Zeus. Zeus fell in love with her but she refused his advances. Zeus knew that Hera had great love for animals and other beings. He transformed himself in a cuckoo, flew outside her window and pretended to be in distress due to the cold. Hera felt pity for the bird, took it inside and held it to her breast to warm it. Zeus then transformed back into himself and raped her. Hera, ashamed of being exploited, agreed to marriage with Zeus.
How did that inspire good moral behavior among the ancients? Incest and rape. No wonder ancient Romans were so screwed up. It took Christianity to straighten out European society.

By the way, many Chinese gods were also bad examples though none raped and committed incest. The one I am familiar with is the Kitchen God, whom my wise granny worshipped. Here is a story about him:
It is believed that on the twenty third day of the twelfth lunar month, just before Chinese New Year, the Kitchen God returns to Heaven to report the activities of every household over the past year to Yu Huang, the Jade Emperor. The Jade Emperor, emperor of the heavens, either rewards or punishes a family based on the Kitchen God's yearly report.
Offerings of food and incense are made to Zao Jun on his birthday (the third day of the eighth lunar month) and also on the twenty third day (or twenty fourth day) of the twelfth lunar month, which marks his return to Heaven to give his New Year's report to the Jade Emperor. On this day, the lips of Zao Jun's paper effigy are often smeared with honey to sweeten his words to Yu Huang (Jade Emperor), or to keep his lips stuck together.
The practice in my household was slightly different. Granny would bake a sticky cake for the Kitchen God to either get his lips stuck or to bribe him.

With a god like that, it is no wonder that there is so much corruption in China. If gods can be bribed, so can human officials in the government. But at least, the Jade Emperor wanted people to do good. The old Chinese religion was thus better than the ancient Greek and Roman religion.
In my opinion Stoicism favourably compares with Christianity, because it has a very strong code of ethics without imposing a vengeful, demanding God. It's a very good combination of ethics and liberty, based on Man's rationality.

The interesting thing is that Zeus did not want to force people being "good" nor did he threaten people with all sort of punishments if they didn't. The other very interesting thing is that stoicism didn't foster the need for a mediating clergy. Relations between Zeus and Man were strictly personal, and based on freedom. The multitude of "gods", popular in Rome, did not concern stoics and stoicism.
If Zeus did not force people to be good by threatening punishments for misbehavior or rewarding them for good behavior, then he was totally ineffective to motivate people to do good and avoid evil. That common practice in the ancient Greeks and Romans was that they would make sacrifices to motivate the gods to do things that they wanted. So instead of being motivated by their gods to do good, they sought to motivate the gods to grant them their desires - more money, power or girls.

I don't see how this motivated people to do good. Besides that, there was an adverse economic impact. I believe that the animal sacrifices were burnt. It might create demand for farm products but it was also a waste of food causing some poor people to become hungry.

Admit it Sertorio. The Christian faith improved European society.
The Imp :D

neverfail
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Re: Wealth According to Seneca

Post by neverfail » Sat May 30, 2020 4:02 am

Cass, I just loved your shared insights re. the kitchen god and his practice of reportiong to the Jade Emperor on the merit/demerit of families and individuals within his jurisdiction. The Chinese seem to be heirs to a rich spirituality even though it is neither Abrahamic nor monotheist. In any case your effort moved me to do a little online research:
https://www.ancient.eu/Jade_Emperor/

The Supreme August Jade Emperor is the supreme deity of Chinese tradition and is otherwise known as Yuhuang Shangdi (Yu-huang Shang-ti), Yudi (Yu Ti) or Mr. Heaven (Lao-t‘ien ye). He governs the cosmos and resides in a magnificent palace in the highest part of heaven along with his large family and entourage of ministers and officials.

The god originated in ancient Chinese oral mythology but he was officially incorporated into the state-sponsored Chinese religion by Emperor Shenzong (Shen-tsung) of the Song Dynasty after the emperor had claimed to have seen the god in a vision on a particular night in 1007 CE....
...now whoa! Wait a minute...

"... he was officially incorporated into the state-sponsored Chinese religion. That is exactly what the Romans did when they built the Pantheon as a common temple/ home to capture the gods and presumably put them to work for the Roman state. It seems that over the centuries regimes of government have rarely resisted the temptation to subbordinate religion to the administerative needs of the state. The consequences have never been notably edifying in my opinion.

..........................................................................................................

Apart from that Seneca seems to have been trying to say that the more money you have the more worry yoy accumulate.

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cassowary
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Re: Wealth According to Seneca

Post by cassowary » Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:30 pm

neverfail wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 4:02 am
Cass, I just loved your shared insights re. the kitchen god and his practice of reporting to the Jade Emperor on the merit/demerit of families and individuals within his jurisdiction. The Chinese seem to be heirs to a rich spirituality even though it is neither Abrahamic nor monotheist. In any case your effort moved me to do a little online research:
https://www.ancient.eu/Jade_Emperor/

The Supreme August Jade Emperor is the supreme deity of Chinese tradition and is otherwise known as Yuhuang Shangdi (Yu-huang Shang-ti), Yudi (Yu Ti) or Mr. Heaven (Lao-t‘ien ye). He governs the cosmos and resides in a magnificent palace in the highest part of heaven along with his large family and entourage of ministers and officials.

The god originated in ancient Chinese oral mythology but he was officially incorporated into the state-sponsored Chinese religion by Emperor Shenzong (Shen-tsung) of the Song Dynasty after the emperor had claimed to have seen the god in a vision on a particular night in 1007 CE....
...now whoa! Wait a minute...

"... he was officially incorporated into the state-sponsored Chinese religion. That is exactly what the Romans did when they built the Pantheon as a common temple/ home to capture the gods and presumably put them to work for the Roman state. It seems that over the centuries regimes of government have rarely resisted the temptation to subbordinate religion to the administerative needs of the state. The consequences have never been notably edifying in my opinion.

..........................................................................................................

Thanks Neverfail,

Well, I like to think that the incorporation of Christianity into Roman and later European states was, on the whole, beneficial. Various Christian clergy prodded Roman emperors to more benign behavior. For example, look at the story of Bishop Ambrose and Roman Emperor Theodosius I.

There was a riot in Thessaloniki , where his governor was killed trying to stop the rioters who were fans of a popular charioteer who was jailed. Furious at the chariot fans, Theodosius ordered another race to be staged.

The fans crowded into the arena. The gates were closed and his soldiers massacred 7,000 people. This was Roman collective punishment. Collective punishment was practiced by the Roman state since its founding. Thus, rebellious legions were decimated (ie every tenth man was killed) regarded of personal guilt. All slaves of a household where the master was poisoned were crucified again regardless of guilt. Roman punishments were designed to deter undesirable behavior such as rioting or rebellion or poisoning of a master by one of his slaves. So long as this objective was achieved, individual guilt or innocence was not important.

Ambrose saw things differently. The individual was of the utmost importance. So he scolded the Emperor and refused him admittance to his cathedral in Milan. See excerpt from above link:
When Ambrose [Bishop of Milan] heard of this deplorable catastrophe, he went out to meet the Emperor, who – on his return to Milan — desired as usual to enter the holy church, but Ambrose prohibited his entrance, saying, "You do not reflect, it seems, O Emperor, on the guilt you have incurred by that great massacre; but now that your fury is appeased, do you not perceive the enormity of your crime?
Crime? It was something new to the Roman Emperor. Romans had, as I said, inflicted collective punishments for centuries. But now, Christianity has brought a change. The individual held more importance than the welfare of the state.

Besides this, Ambrose added another new concept:
Your subjects, O Emperor, are of the same nature as yourself, and not only so, but are likewise your fellow servants; for there is one Lord and Ruler of all, and He is the Maker of all creatures, whether princes or people.
Equality. So whether prince or people, we are all equal before the eyes of God.

You can write a book on how Christianity benefited European civilization. But that is all for now.
The Imp :D

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Sertorio
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Re: Wealth According to Seneca

Post by Sertorio » Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:10 am

cassowary wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:30 pm
neverfail wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 4:02 am
Cass, I just loved your shared insights re. the kitchen god and his practice of reporting to the Jade Emperor on the merit/demerit of families and individuals within his jurisdiction. The Chinese seem to be heirs to a rich spirituality even though it is neither Abrahamic nor monotheist. In any case your effort moved me to do a little online research:
https://www.ancient.eu/Jade_Emperor/

The Supreme August Jade Emperor is the supreme deity of Chinese tradition and is otherwise known as Yuhuang Shangdi (Yu-huang Shang-ti), Yudi (Yu Ti) or Mr. Heaven (Lao-t‘ien ye). He governs the cosmos and resides in a magnificent palace in the highest part of heaven along with his large family and entourage of ministers and officials.

The god originated in ancient Chinese oral mythology but he was officially incorporated into the state-sponsored Chinese religion by Emperor Shenzong (Shen-tsung) of the Song Dynasty after the emperor had claimed to have seen the god in a vision on a particular night in 1007 CE....
...now whoa! Wait a minute...

"... he was officially incorporated into the state-sponsored Chinese religion. That is exactly what the Romans did when they built the Pantheon as a common temple/ home to capture the gods and presumably put them to work for the Roman state. It seems that over the centuries regimes of government have rarely resisted the temptation to subbordinate religion to the administerative needs of the state. The consequences have never been notably edifying in my opinion.

..........................................................................................................

Thanks Neverfail,

Well, I like to think that the incorporation of Christianity into Roman and later European states was, on the whole, beneficial. Various Christian clergy prodded Roman emperors to more benign behavior. For example, look at the story of Bishop Ambrose and Roman Emperor Theodosius I.

There was a riot in Thessaloniki , where his governor was killed trying to stop the rioters who were fans of a popular charioteer who was jailed. Furious at the chariot fans, Theodosius ordered another race to be staged.

The fans crowded into the arena. The gates were closed and his soldiers massacred 7,000 people. This was Roman collective punishment. Collective punishment was practiced by the Roman state since its founding. Thus, rebellious legions were decimated (ie every tenth man was killed) regarded of personal guilt. All slaves of a household where the master was poisoned were crucified again regardless of guilt. Roman punishments were designed to deter undesirable behavior such as rioting or rebellion or poisoning of a master by one of his slaves. So long as this objective was achieved, individual guilt or innocence was not important.

Ambrose saw things differently. The individual was of the utmost importance. So he scolded the Emperor and refused him admittance to his cathedral in Milan. See excerpt from above link:
When Ambrose [Bishop of Milan] heard of this deplorable catastrophe, he went out to meet the Emperor, who – on his return to Milan — desired as usual to enter the holy church, but Ambrose prohibited his entrance, saying, "You do not reflect, it seems, O Emperor, on the guilt you have incurred by that great massacre; but now that your fury is appeased, do you not perceive the enormity of your crime?
Crime? It was something new to the Roman Emperor. Romans had, as I said, inflicted collective punishments for centuries. But now, Christianity has brought a change. The individual held more importance than the welfare of the state.

Besides this, Ambrose added another new concept:
Your subjects, O Emperor, are of the same nature as yourself, and not only so, but are likewise your fellow servants; for there is one Lord and Ruler of all, and He is the Maker of all creatures, whether princes or people.
Equality. So whether prince or people, we are all equal before the eyes of God.

You can write a book on how Christianity benefited European civilization. But that is all for now.
You should read the writings of Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor who was not Christian but had very high ethical standards.

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cassowary
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Re: Wealth According to Seneca

Post by cassowary » Thu Jun 11, 2020 5:03 am

Sertorio wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:10 am
cassowary wrote:
Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:30 pm
neverfail wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 4:02 am
Cass, I just loved your shared insights re. the kitchen god and his practice of reporting to the Jade Emperor on the merit/demerit of families and individuals within his jurisdiction. The Chinese seem to be heirs to a rich spirituality even though it is neither Abrahamic nor monotheist. In any case your effort moved me to do a little online research:
https://www.ancient.eu/Jade_Emperor/

The Supreme August Jade Emperor is the supreme deity of Chinese tradition and is otherwise known as Yuhuang Shangdi (Yu-huang Shang-ti), Yudi (Yu Ti) or Mr. Heaven (Lao-t‘ien ye). He governs the cosmos and resides in a magnificent palace in the highest part of heaven along with his large family and entourage of ministers and officials.

The god originated in ancient Chinese oral mythology but he was officially incorporated into the state-sponsored Chinese religion by Emperor Shenzong (Shen-tsung) of the Song Dynasty after the emperor had claimed to have seen the god in a vision on a particular night in 1007 CE....
...now whoa! Wait a minute...

"... he was officially incorporated into the state-sponsored Chinese religion. That is exactly what the Romans did when they built the Pantheon as a common temple/ home to capture the gods and presumably put them to work for the Roman state. It seems that over the centuries regimes of government have rarely resisted the temptation to subbordinate religion to the administerative needs of the state. The consequences have never been notably edifying in my opinion.

..........................................................................................................

Thanks Neverfail,

Well, I like to think that the incorporation of Christianity into Roman and later European states was, on the whole, beneficial. Various Christian clergy prodded Roman emperors to more benign behavior. For example, look at the story of Bishop Ambrose and Roman Emperor Theodosius I.

There was a riot in Thessaloniki , where his governor was killed trying to stop the rioters who were fans of a popular charioteer who was jailed. Furious at the chariot fans, Theodosius ordered another race to be staged.

The fans crowded into the arena. The gates were closed and his soldiers massacred 7,000 people. This was Roman collective punishment. Collective punishment was practiced by the Roman state since its founding. Thus, rebellious legions were decimated (ie every tenth man was killed) regarded of personal guilt. All slaves of a household where the master was poisoned were crucified again regardless of guilt. Roman punishments were designed to deter undesirable behavior such as rioting or rebellion or poisoning of a master by one of his slaves. So long as this objective was achieved, individual guilt or innocence was not important.

Ambrose saw things differently. The individual was of the utmost importance. So he scolded the Emperor and refused him admittance to his cathedral in Milan. See excerpt from above link:
When Ambrose [Bishop of Milan] heard of this deplorable catastrophe, he went out to meet the Emperor, who – on his return to Milan — desired as usual to enter the holy church, but Ambrose prohibited his entrance, saying, "You do not reflect, it seems, O Emperor, on the guilt you have incurred by that great massacre; but now that your fury is appeased, do you not perceive the enormity of your crime?
Crime? It was something new to the Roman Emperor. Romans had, as I said, inflicted collective punishments for centuries. But now, Christianity has brought a change. The individual held more importance than the welfare of the state.

Besides this, Ambrose added another new concept:
Your subjects, O Emperor, are of the same nature as yourself, and not only so, but are likewise your fellow servants; for there is one Lord and Ruler of all, and He is the Maker of all creatures, whether princes or people.
Equality. So whether prince or people, we are all equal before the eyes of God.

You can write a book on how Christianity benefited European civilization. But that is all for now.
You should read the writings of Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor who was not Christian but had very high ethical standards.
Yes, I read “Meditations”, by Marcus Aurelius when I was in the days of my youth. I don’t remember much of it now. But You are right. He had high moral standards.

But how many people will apply his ideas without the motivation of Divine punishments and rewards? Perhaps a few high intellects. But not the vast majority.

Had Emperor Theodosius been a pagan, he would have ignored Bishop Ambrose. Or worse. But he obeyed the unarmed bishop. No doubt the Christian emperor believed in Divine punishment and repented the use of collective punishments as an instrument of state rule.
The Imp :D

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cassowary
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Re: Wealth According to Seneca

Post by cassowary » Thu Jun 11, 2020 6:11 pm

Actually collective punishment is effective though unjust on the innocent. In a mutiny or riot or poisoning it is not possible to tell who the guilty are. So you punish all to be sure that the guilty does not escape justice.

This deters crime. The Roman attitude was “better to let 100 innocent die than to let one guilty person escape.”

But Christianity raised the value of human life. So nowadays, it’s “better to let 100 guilty escape justice than to let one innocent man die.”

The security and safety of the state was more important than any individual. That’s the Roman attitude.

Without Christianity, modern Europeans would be watching bloody gladiatorial combats on TV. So low was the regard to human lives, the Romans had.
The Imp :D

neverfail
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Re: 'Coaxing them down from out of the jungle treetop canopy'?

Post by neverfail » Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:07 am

cassowary wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 6:11 pm

The security and safety of the state was more important than any individual. That’s the Roman attitude.
Does that not describe how the Peoples Republic of China operates today?

if so, then does that not suggest that China has around 2,000 years of evolution to go through in order to catch up with The West? ;) :)

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Sertorio
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Re: 'Coaxing them down from out of the jungle treetop canopy'?

Post by Sertorio » Fri Jun 12, 2020 2:13 am

neverfail wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:07 am
cassowary wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 6:11 pm

The security and safety of the state was more important than any individual. That’s the Roman attitude.
Does that not describe how the Peoples Republic of China operates today?

if so, then does that not suggest that China has around 2,000 years of evolution to go through in order to catch up with The West? ;) :)
To think in individual terms is a bit of an oddity. We are a social species and we would find it hard to survive isolated. We keep talking of the "common good" because the community is more important than the individual. When we place the individual above the community we are starting on the path to destruction. That doesn't mean the individual has no rights, but only that his/her rights must be subordinated to the rights of the whole. Rome did that. So does the PRC. And so should we.

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