Gratitude to the Greeks: The Birth of Democracy

I’m going to begin this with a poem I wrote a few years ago, because it lays out the context of what I’m about to write. Also, I want to acknowledge that I got the idea to write this after watching a documentary on Amazon Prime called The First War for Western Civilization. Want to make sure I give proper credit where its due. So here we go.

Perspective 

Hello! My friendly friend

Please, lend me just one ear

This story must be told

This true tale you must hear

For back when life just started 

Long ago when things begun

There were but only two things

The universe’s wheel had spun

These two things fought and bickered

Until there came a day

A third thing tried to hurt them

And take their lives away

So helping one another

The two things formed a plan

To rid themselves of others

And join forces hand in hand

As the three were fighting

Another joined the fun

It tried to rule them all

But three things had turned to one

Helping all around them

They’d almost won the fight 

‘Till the fifth came in to battle

So the four grouped all their might

They fought off this new creature 

They knew soon six shall arrive

Come in from out of nowhere 

And force truce to stay alive

The truce made these things realize 

That these fights were really dumb

And standing strong together

Beats waging war as one

That poem illustrates the precise concept of how we, in the West, live the way we do. Let me explain.

Far too often I think we find ourselves removed from our history, getting caught up in the here and now. But any history book will tell you the basic tale of our cultural evolution and how we’ve arrived where we are today. We, in the West, vastly favor democracy: the rule of the people, by the people. It’s important to know where this all began.

The concept of democracy began in Athens, Greece, back in the 6th century BC. For those not into war/military history, at the time the Greeks were essentially comprised of a collection of city-states; all of which governing themselves and adopting their own culture and manner of living. They were constantly warring with one another for land and/or power. You hear all the time about the powers such as Athens, Sparta, Corinth, and so on. I want to make particular note of this sense of isolationism, because it’s basically the point of this post.

From 499 BC to 449 BC, the Greco-Persian wars were waged. This is important. I’ll spare the details, but in a nutshell, this was basically the greatest clash of East vs West ever fought, and its results have literally echoed to this very day. Persia was the greatest empire Earth had ever seen at the time. Its influence stretched from Eastern Europe to Western Asia and into Africa. It was enormous, covering about five and a half million square miles.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Road

Now it doesn’t take much imagination to realize how powerful an empire such as this might be. Just by the sheer numbers of its geographic reach. Its army was massive. Massively massive, one might say. While there is some dispute amongst historians as to the cause of the Greco-Persian wars, the objective fact is that yes, Persia did try and invade the Greeks. Some say Persia was okay with its current influence and didn’t desire total world domination, and others say that they did. That’s an argument for the historians. Much of that argument rests on the fact the Athens and Sparta killed emissaries that had been sent as a means of diplomacy – an unforgivable act. The term “don’t kill the messenger” very much applies here, because some argue that this is what inflamed Persia to invade, while others take the Jihad/spread of Islam approach. That’s a murky water and I don’t want to tread in it, so we’ll just say that point is…they invaded. Who knows why.

This invasion is the force aforementioned in that poem. The Greeks, seeing this gigantic force coming to steal their horses and take their women, shed their egos, pride, and vanity, and united to fend them off. This literally is the reason you are enjoying your voting booths today. Had this war been lost, the West would have been under the influence of Eastern ideologies, and you would be living a very, VERY, different life.

So this is a thank you to the legends of yesteryear who rose to the occasion and defended their way of life. A salute to the strong; a toast to those who stood up for their convictions, even in the face of death.

Without folks like you, we’d be doomed.


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