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Can one man - or woman - change history? Can a single individual change the course of mighty events and mold the destiny of a society, bringing about a reevaluation of values and lifestyles?
Sure. Just look at the Hanukka story, which we begin commemorating tonight with the first candle. That eight-day doughnut-and-latkes bash is about more than just a jug of oil lasting longer than it was supposed to; it's about the tenacity of the small group that recruited their fellow Jews in an uprising against the armies of the overfed Antiochus Epiphanes, eventually evicting the enemy from the center of Jewish life, the Holy Temple.
And how did the revolutionist Maccabees and their comrades get into the business of fighting the major world power Syrian-Greeks? It was all because of the influence of one man - Mattityahu the High Priest, progenitor of the family - who refused to toe the Hellenist line.
But that kind of spunk doesn't come overnight; Mattityahu obviously knew how to lead and inspire. But unless you're to the leadership manner born - and few are - anyone who wants to make their mark on history and do the kind of thing that gets remembered way down the line has to work on those skills. How do you win friends and influence people - while battling for what's right and good? Practice, and hone your abilities. With a little practice and some luck, even commoners can turn into leaders who inspire and influence.
And just where do you get this practice? Well, you could just go right out and do something like start a revolution - but that might be jumping the gun. Instead, why not start with something smaller - like changing the course of a historical novel at Pan Historia (http://www.panhistoria.com)?
Pan Historia is a unique on-line universe in which you can practice your people-influencing skills, check out ancient or modern cultures and societies, learn how to write like a pro and otherwise have a great time helping to put together the great American, ancient Roman, romance, science fiction or other novel. Literally!
Like an on-line role-playing game, Pan Historia lets you join and set up characters that can participate in the many social exchanges going on at the site. But unlike complicated on-line games that require you to learn all sorts of esoteric rules about spaceships and fancy weapons, the action at Pan Historia is simple enough for anyone to jump into immediately: All you have to do is write.
The site features ongoing role-playing stories, called "novels," that site members can join in character, injecting themselves into the saga and directing the story based on their character's actions. Novel genres include action, contemporary situations, science fiction, horror, fantasy, westerns and historical, among others.
In essence, Pan Historia's novels operate like newsgroups, or actually more like soap operas, as there are often many subplots to the main story action, which is guided by managers of each novel. Some novels require approval before posting, but most seem to be open to all comers; you can use your character to start a new tangent to the action, or get in on someone else's storyline with a reaction of your own (all story entries are listed on each novel's main site). There are novels for every taste; in the history section, for example, novels have titles like Athens, Pax Romana, Age of the Vikings, the Romanovs, among many others (there are also lots of choices in the fantasy and science fiction novels area).
Basic membership is free, although you can buy a premium account for more rights and privileges - such as the ability to create as many characters as you want, instead of the three that basic members are limited to (which you can move around to any story as you wish). Pan Historia is also a great way to learn about different historical eras and societies - although not all novels are appropriate for all ages (novels have a "movie"-style rating , from G to NC-17, indicating what to expect).
The challenge in Pan Historia, if you choose to take it, is to reach out and influence the events in your novel, making a real mark on the story. Or, you can just go with the flow and lose yourself in the goings-on. Either way, Pan Historia is unlike any other game you have ever played - and you may just emerge as the next great leader of the Jewish people with what you learn there.
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