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Socrates And Assimilation

September 17, 2010

As I read “Crito” this week, I could not believe how relevant Socrates’ views on national loyalty were. I immediately began reflecting on immigration to the United States, and how this beautiful nation has been constantly referred to as a “melting pot.” Although the United States is referred to as such, there are still very many distinct cultural communities. As a person of an ethnic background, I have seen newcomers to this nation both embrace the beauty and diversity of the United States and I have also seen some shun it. I have always been disgusted by those who have chosen not to assimilate at all. Not only do some choose not to assimilate,  but they will rip apart the many facets of the nation rather than revere all of the opportunities she brings.  I do respect those who maintain cultural traditions, but a person must also accept a nation’s many facets if he is to become a real member of her community.

When Socrates’ explained how Athens had provided him everything he had ever wanted and enjoyed of all her resources, I really wanted to give him a high-five. In the words of J.F.K., “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”  I feel many come to this nation with the mentality that they will take, and do not consider how they will give back. Socrates explains that even though he may not agree with the majority ideals in Athens’, he has enjoyed her, and by no way has he been forced to stay.  Therefore, he will not opt out of society, but embrace his fate as it is the consequence of the life he has freely chosen. So too, should all people embrace the diversity and beauty of the United States. Certainly, there are things about this nation that are imperfect, but being that we are citizens, we must take the good with the bad since we have been offered the chance to utilize all of her resources. In end, like Socrates, I am saying that a citizen should hold unending loyalty to the nation from which he has been given the opportunity to live and thrive.

  1. Euzane permalink
    September 19, 2010 9:30 PM

    I would have to agree with you have said. A country, a nation is mainly made up of thousands of people; the human population is the core of a nation. Without the human population, the nation wouldn’t have survived and ran smoothly. Therefore, if everyone in the nation is busy dealing with their own personal businesses and ignoring the fact that the nation also needs their contribution, nothing would work out, thus will lead to the collapse of the nation.
    What a country has, the assets of the country, come from the contribution of its people. If people only focus on what they can get from the country, but not about how they can contribute to the country, they will get nothing from it, eventually.
    As an international student myself, I absolutely agree on the importance of assimilation. The emphasis on a harmonic cultural environment is all about sharing cultures and thoughts. Assimilation, from my perspective, is all about learning from each other, rather than judging or commenting. People from different ethnic backgrounds carry things that are worth learning from, and so when one discriminates another culture, he/she is giving a chance to learn something valuable, hence, doesn’t get anything from the discrimination. All of us want the best for ourselves, but more importantly, think about what is best for the others around you. When others are benefited, we ourselves also benefit from doing good.

  2. mlevin44 permalink
    September 22, 2010 12:54 PM

    As much as I appreciate your patriotism, I cannot understand how “as a person of ethnic background”, you do not further understand the situation many immigrants are faced with today in America. Socrates and Dr. King both discuss truth and justice. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, Dr. King explains how, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor.” As a nation we have not only oppressed but also purposefully bullied and derailed minority groups who are trying to “assimilate”. And assimilation is never easy. Who would want to sing The National Anthem (although quite a catchy song), when they can barley survive under our government? Can barley receive citizenship, healthcare and employment? It is extremely difficult to move somewhere looking for a new life, but leave all of your rich culture behind. I don’t believe the newcomers to this nation are “shunning” the beauty of the United States. They are simply retaliating to the wrongs they have often faced since the moment they arrived. Of course there are many groups, programs and organizations that succeed in helping immigrants and newcomers. Socrates was no immigrant or newcomer to Athens when he faced his trial though. He had reaped benefits from the state and had been treated with respect under the law. As cliché and cynical as it sounds, history tends to repeat itself. Newcomers to this country will continue to strive for the “American Dream” and we will in some cases continue to knock people down from the start.

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