How does the quotation "Good words are better than  bad strokes" from Act V, Scene i, from Julius Caesar  by William Shakespeare apply to the world today?

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare was based on actual events beginning in 44 B. C. After the assassination of Caesar, many of the conspirators are killed. A civil war ensues with the new triumvirate pursuing the two conspirators that are left: Brutus and Cassius.

Brutus and Cassius have formed their own armies.  Against Cassius's better judgment, they have marched their troops to Philipi for a final battle against Antony and Octavius. This was the battle to decide the fate of Rome.

One of the customs of the times was for the generals of the armies to meet prior to the battle.  The purpose was to hopefully be able to negotiate a truce or end the war before it began.  If that was not possible, then the leaders confrontation would be one of words, insults, and accusations. 

Brutus begins by saying that they will have words before they begin the war.

        BRUTUS:Words before blows. Is it so, countrymen?OCTAVIUS:Not that we love words better, as you do.BRUTUS:Good words are better than bad strokes, Octavius.ANTONY:In your bad strokes, Brutus, you give good words.
Witness the hole you made in Caesar's heart,
Crying “Long live! Hail, Caesar. 

One of the statements made by Brutus applies to the world today. "Good words are better than bad strokes." Negotiations through diplomatic talks can help to avoid any kind of strife. 

The purpose of our Department of State falls under the blanket of Brutus's statement. Our Secretary of State travels throughout the world using diplomacy to avoid Civil Wars and confrontations that are like this one evidenced in the play. 

The Secretary helps to build freedom throughout the world for the enefit of the American people so that the internation community can act responsibly rather negatively toward other countries.  In other words, good meetings to talk with countries that have problems in the hope that problems can be settled before the weapons [bad strokes] are used.

A great example of "good words before bad strokes" comes from the Camp David meetings in the late 1970s.  President Jimmy Carter assisted talks for establishing peace between Egypt and Israel.  It was such an important diplomatic accomplishment that the leaders of the two countries received the Nobel Peace Prize for their agreement.

Other than a few countries--North Korea, Iran--no one wants war.  The cost is too great in soldiers and civilian lives and equipment. So the diplomats hold conferences to work international problems. Ahead of his time in understanding how to prevent war, Shakespeare used the character of Brutus to point out the waste and foolishness of war.


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