I wrote the rough draft for this last night after spending the entire day at the Democratic National Circus … Convention. :0) Before going to the convention I read Aristotle’s thoughts on the Political Person in “Who Are We?” by Louis Pojman, so the wheels were turning throughout the day.
Aristotle said: “Legislators make the citizens good by forming habits in them” (60). Then Pojman wrote: “The legislator who fails to accomplish this task has failed in his task as legislator” (60).
How can a legislator make citizens good and, if he or she can and fails, can society actually say that they have failed? After watching events yesterday I thought that legislators can set a good example through honest and careful reasoning. Thousands of people were in downtown Denver yesterday protesting the Iraq War. They feel that President Bush lied to them and that the United States is over in Iraq to take over their supply of oil. While I disagreed with some of the things they wrote on their signs, I recognized that democracy was at work in a positive way.
Both Aristotle and Plato dismissed democracy. They held that certain people were better than others and that because of this the people who were better had the right to rule over people who did not fit into this category—“we should not let the ignorant masses rule the state,” they said (Pojman, 60). In Plato and Aristotle’s view, what happened yesterday—the march of thousands down city streets that blocked traffic, stopped commerce and used the taxpayer’s money because of the necessity of bringing in more police than I could count—would have been ludicrous. The protestors were not very well reasoned in some of their views. They wanted revolution, wanted to impeach Bush, wanted to “funk” the war, wanted an end to police brutality and wanted to decrease police. Because I was caught in the middle of the march a few times (that was a little scary), I could tell that several had been drinking and had been smoking marijuana. I even saw one person “shooting up” in the bushes, so perhaps in Plato and Aristotle’s view these people did not deserve a voice because they could be considered immoral or without virtue according to the standards that we have set in our society (I am not sure what our two philosophers thought about drugs).
In view of spiritual formation, we could bring all of this to the church level. Do we keep outsiders and younger Christians from having a say, or from doing things in our churches, just because the more “mature” Christians consider them less equal or because the “mature” consider their views immature. Aren’t we all equal in Christ? This is one view from Aristotle and Plato that does not fit in our society or in the church.
Off the main subject, here are our photos from the convention:
Denver and the DNC
Police at the protest