Monday, June 6, 2011


Athens is, perhaps, the one city everyone thinks of when they think of ancient Greece. To a Greek, this is not necessarily so, as they are aware of the vast richness of ancient Greek architecture, art, and literature that originated in many places all over the land we call Greece. To those of us who are not Greek, however, Athens is the shining glory that was ancient Greece.


It is in ancient Athens that we see the ideals come to flowering that we hold dear in the West. It is in Athens that we see the flowering of philosophy, democracy, and the ideal of equality. Oh, we are not blind, of course, we know that women, slaves, and non-Athenian born free men did not have the same rights as the citizens, and that Athens had a strong and powerful aristocratic class that often made a mockery of the democratic process, but the truth is that we recognize in that society something very much a kin to our own.


When the United States were founded, it was with an ideal that would need centuries to come to a greater flowering. The founders of our nation saw in Athens and the systems they set up as ideal, and they sought to write into our constitution a system that would grow and change while retaining that unique characteristic we call democracy. That they needed to use the Republican system to make it workable is understandable. Like Rome, the United States would prove too large, even in colonial times, to rule with a truly democratic system, but where the Athenians had lead the way, and the Romans had tried to follow, America wanted to continue.

Like Athens, we had an imperfect system. We had women who could not bring their voices to bear on government, slaves who were counted, but only as cattle might be, and other people who, while free, were not to be given the same rights as the citizen class. A class which, at first, was very aristocratic in nature. The founding of our nation was, in almost all ways, a reflection of the Athenians who had lit the light of democracy so long ago.


For many of us who worship the Gods of Olympus, it is ideals such as democracy and liberty, the love of art and architecture, the desire to know as embodied in the Greek arts of philosophy and science, that drew us. We were drawn to the Gods who had presided over the birth of these ideals, and would seek to worship them again in an effort to once again allow their influence into the world.


The glory that was Athens, with its art, its architecture, its science and philosophy would call to us and lead us to the very Gods who once fought over her land so as to claim it. The same Gods who would inspire them to achieve, in sometimes miraculously short amounts of time, such incredible things that to this day man kind has not met their challenge.


We who wish to see the influence of the Gods once more alive in the world, however, must not allow ourselves to be stopped from bringing it to light. We must not allow our conflicts, and the influences of the Abrahamic faiths and nationalistic endeavors to stop us from embracing the truth. The truth that the Gods live, and in large portions of the world, man has become blind to their presence. That the Christian and Moslem faiths, with their hate promoting zealotry must not be allowed to kill off the power that lies in the realization that the Gods, in all their names, in all their glory, can lead us to live in peace while embracing our diversity, not by destroying it.


That as the Athenians learned to build a system that gave a greater voice to its citizens, flawed system though it was, we can learn to create a system that will give the Gods a voice in the world that will bless us all with that same spirit of freedom and liberty we have often aspired to in our nation. A system in which all men and women, no matter their race, their religion, their sexual orientations can have a voice that sings in pride to the blessed Gods who dwell in splendor.


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