In Roman times, marble sculptures were highly prized status objects.
Sure, they were expensive, but more than that, they were really hard to make. Every strike of the chisel had to be perfect.
But sometimes even the best sculptor would make a mistake. Sometimes he’d chip away the wrong piece, leaving an ugly ding.
Not great, sure, but not the end of the world. The artist would fill up the ding with a small piece of soft wax that had the same exact color as the marble, covering up the ding completely.
Sure, an expert could tell up close, but the average passer-by wouldn’t notice. Not ideal, but not a bad hack, either.
Of course, the statues without wax, being perfect, would command a much higher price and confer a lot more status on the owner, than the ones with the wax.
Which meant if you wanted something really fancy, you’d order your statue “Without Wax”- Sine Cera – “Sine (without) Cera (wax)” in Latin.
Which yes, is where we get the word “sincere” from. Without wax. Someone or something without any of the fake bits.
Sadly there seems to be a lot of “wax” sloshing around these days, especially in the cultural arena. Celebs, politicians, botox, Influencers, autotune singers, CGI-infested movies, word-salad hucksters, lifestyle gurus – we’re utterly drowning in it.
The worst thing is, it’s become normalized. This is what we’ve come to expect from our cultural leaders.
Which is why it’s refreshing to see this recent article in the Wall Street Journal about somebody who is the complete opposite of that – the new President of the United Auto Workers Union, Shawn Fain.
Fain, 52, started working as an electrician in the car business straight out of trade school, and never left. He got into trade union politics early on, and rose to the top.
There’s nothing high falutin’ or fancy about him, but he’s tough as nails. He needs to be. Apparently he makes the car bosses, Wall Street, AND Washington nervous.
His UAW members know he’s one of them, and know he can fight bare knuckles for them if he has to. So they love and respect him.
We need more of his kind – actual role models, not just millionaire entertainers and sport stars pretending to be blue collar.
Sure, millionaire entertainers and sports stars are fine, but their lives aren’t very real to the people they’re influencing, they’re more like fantasy. And that’s too bad. People also need leaders who actually live in the same non-fantasy world that they do.