Socrates, Trump and Jedis

There is some evidence that Socrates, one of the greatest thinkers of all time judging from the information we have been given by such as Plato, Xenophon and Aristotle, was not happy with democracy. But he did drink his hemlock after being adjudged he was a danger to the democratic Athenian state.

The reason he is reported as using for his unhappiness with the democratic principle, is that it meant that people who were quite ignorant or who had not thought deeply about right, wrong and other issues could be our leaders.

Of course he was not a believer in religion – he thought of morality as an inner search for good by each of us as individual human beings. However he did openly celebrate some of the pagan religious ceremonies common in his time, one assumes with both the view of respecting other’s opinions and for the protection of not standing out. Nevertheless it was his godlessness that brought him face to face with the hemlock. I know how he felt!

It is hard not to think that the sort of democracy we are experiencing at the moment in the west does not reflect his views as to its very dangers and shortfalls. But do these shortfalls always arise from the possible ignorance of the elected leaders? Could it not more reflect on the leaders’ and its majorities’ long term ties with religions of one sort or another?

I think this is one of the main reasons that Donald Trump has been freely elected in a democratic US society. For many in the old Holy Roman Empire and its more recent off shoots and “dominions”, good and right have been axiomatically accepted as reflecting Christian viewpoints. Whilst the proponents of these viewpoints may not themselves be strong supporters of a particular sect which might, in itself, require the believer to do some self examination, nevertheless the external representations of these views is without further thought, accepted.

Other religious viewpoints are seen as a threat. Differences in people are viewed as a threat.

And you Jedi worshippers, as not revealed by the Australian Census, watch out.

For many years I, as a non theist, have contended that I am, in a democratic society, entitled to a secular government. I require that elected members should take their oath of allegiance as a personal promise, not as an oath. I think I am entitled to send my children to a secular, government school which does not enforce religious teaching. I think that religious institutions should pay the full rate of taxation with normal exemptions for charitable works. And this would apply to you Jedis in particular!

I respect the rights of each individual to believe in the tenets of any faith which he or she follows, whilst obeying the laws of the country in which they reside. I believe that non theists such as myself have a right to respectfully express our opinions also.

But whilst so ever democratic governments do more than merely protect the rights of believers of all faiths (and non believers) equally, there will always be room for disasters like hemlock or a Trump. If the democratic government of the day takes a stand on issues that are religious ones only, such as John Howard did on marriage equality, such as some government members do on questions such as abortions, such as our government does on some refugees, then we leave room for the idea of democracy to become seriously abused.

And you Jedis beware. I am not yet ready to be forced to say that I am at one with all Martians! I would have to think about that, at some depth, after I had had time to use Socratic methods to debate views with one or two of them.

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About Anne Powles

I am retired from paid employment. During my working life I have been variously and sometimes contemporaneously, wife, mother of four, lawyer, teacher and psychologist. I have also been a serial education junkie. As are we all, I have been an observer of the world around me. Here I have recorded some of my memories, observations and theorisings.
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2 Responses to Socrates, Trump and Jedis

  1. toukleytonic says:

    I can see the serpent in the garden of good and evil raising its head, and looking. Who doesn’t think the way I do? Watch out.

  2. Anne Powles says:

    I’m watching out with enthusiasm!

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