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The Second Best Country in the World

September 20, 2010

Socrates’ trial and eventual death not only capture the martyrdom of a freethinker, but also give insight of political dysfunction and injustice.  Athens in 400 B.C. provided a much different political environment than in the modern day U.S..  We take for granted the right to live the “self examined life,” a freedom that defines Socrates’ willingness to live.  The closer political regimes get to providing “the good life” the more it makes life worth living.

Meletus and his fellow accusers take part in a single council that wields the power to choose life or death for an individual just for having separate beliefs.   Socrates has no choice but to give up on justice and life itself.  Our lives as Americans are defined by the freedoms Socrates lacked in his time.  An individual has the right to worship the Gods he or she chooses and the right to voice ones opinion, whatever it be, all because of our political regime.  This privilege is not constant though in the modern world; many  nations allow tyranny, oligarchy, and other oppressive regimes to constrict freedoms of the people.  We take for granted this freedom yet subconsciously put a much higher value on life.  Socrates’ willingness to die is not only to prove his point, but also because he no longer finds meaning in a life in which he can’t even question knowledge and understanding.  Socrates’ death is almost an end run on a life not worth living, but the question is, would he be less willing to die if there were such a society that provided the “good life” he imagines?

America is a good example of a society in which political powers enable us to live a life worth living.  In contrast Athens is a society in which power is confided in and abused by few, not the people.  Democracy provides each individual in our nation with justice and equality, two rights not granted to Socrates.  So whether we realize it or not, we live in one of the greatest places on Earth.  The U.S. is a melting pot of various ethnic, cultural, and religious beliefs that are practiced with pride by the free people of this country.  It is worth living a life as an American because of the rights we have to accept, voice, and question any belief or ideology that we wish to.

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