Democracy is a governing system in which supremacy and power is vested in the hands of the people. It is exercised through voting to determine the will of the majority. Athens was an example of a democratic city as described by Pericles who once said that it respected the will of the majority (Thucydides 58).
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Pericles argued that Athens City was democratic simply by the fact that power was based on majority but not social stratification, favoritism or popularity. However, various people in political platforms have varied views on what exactly is a democratic system. For instance, some argued that Athens was not fully democratic because of the position of the government relative to that of the citizens. Narrowing down the focus to what Pericles stated, it is undoubtedly true that Athens was in a democratic government system. This paper will, in this regard, show how valid Pericles’ words, “Our system is called a democracy, for it respects the majority and not the few . . .” are valid.
To begin with, there was fairness in the administration of social, political and economic leadership positions. This can be seen in the manner in which positions in the public offices and industries were shared. Competent skills became the basis of job allocation rather than race, gender, religion or ethnicity (Osborne 79). In addition, his sentiments confirm that democracy was highly respected as provided in the law. It protected workers and leaders from exploitation which instilled a deep sense of security to vulnerable or minority groups (Osborne 79).
Athens managed to foster full participation of the public in governance than other cities. Public involvement in Athens was given a considerable attention in solving matters that concerned it. Public engagement was especially nurtured in politics where they chose their own leaders through voting (Osborne 83). Public amenities were also made accessible to the public to present their suggestions and recommendations on particular issues that concerned the wellness of the people (Osborne 83). This enabled the citizens to realize their full potential and diverse capabilities which define the beauty of a nation. The government did not wink at the peoples’ needs but instead gathered its efforts to raise the living standards of the less fortunate (Osborne 83). These traits qualify Athens to have been a democratic city and hence the validity of Pericles’ account.
The formation of laws was not imitation of other cities. Athenians were independent and stood in the way they wanted to be governed (Osborne 136). They consulted themselves on the most efficient ways the system could satisfy them. Their wishes could be easily granted since freedom and openness were their democratic rights. Other cities may have imitated their neighbors but for Athens, they came out strongly to defend themselves and proved the need for what could fit them (Osborne 136). They paid regard to those laws that protected them from any oppression that could arise. This showed how democracy could work for the Athenians and majority rule respected.
Athenian enjoyed a good sense of relaxation and refreshments after hard day’s work. As compared to other cities, Athens led by Pericles had a good opportunity to have repose from any duty that was so energy involving (Osborne 37). This rejuvenated people’s efforts to constantly remain productive. Arrangements for the contests and festivals that people could engage in were introduced so that in their homes, their cares could be cast away. Their homes had good taste and beauty in their minds could be delighted (Osborne 37). This showed the sense of the free will of the people to do what could befit them and majority rule would be respected to the uttermost.
Lastly, their code of conduct was noble. Athenian democratic system had a great sense in their way of treating others positively (Rhodes 187). Kindness was in their daily acts but they got it by being kind to their neighbors and foreigners. This, in turn, attracted foreign investors which collectively furthered the economic growth of Athens. In addition, their relations grew stronger because of their principle (Rhodes 187). Because of democratic system that enable a free will to be exercised, people made it a personal obligation to do right.
In conclusion, democratic form of government respected the majority rule. As discussed above, the people in Athens city could work well with the laws they made for themselves without imitating other cities. It is also evident that the Athenian people worked efficiently because they got enough rest and were not overworking. The system also proved that the issues which inconvenienced them could be addressed because people engaged in full participation in choosing their leaders. Being a democratic city, most decisions concerning various matters concerning relied upon the preference of the majority. In as much as the preference was granted, it might have contradicted values of the city and the whole society in which the minority might have wanted to decline, it will not be accepted. A democratic system doesn’t mean that the minority have been totally left out but that even if they lost in election, their rights and privileges are still intact as any other person.
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