Central View: Can we learn from the ancient Greeks?
Virtually everyone with breath enough to fog a mirror knows every major political polling organization predicted Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 presidential election. Over that summer, many lobbying groups dismissed their staffers with Republican connections and replaced them with staffers who had ties to the Democrat members of Congress and with the permanent federal bureaucracy, AKA the Deep State.
At first blush, it looked as if the Deep State had out-smarted itself. But, lo and behold, it turns out the Republican majorities in the House and Senate are riddled with Republicans-in-name-only (RINOs). Moreover, the Deep State sees President Trump as an existential threat to its jobs and to its control over the Washington bureaucracy. Oddly enough, there are those who agree with President Trump’s agenda but oppose its accomplishment based solely on their dislike of President Trump’s personality.
So, today we find our nation divided between the voters who elected President Trump to accomplish certain reforms versus the RINOs, the Democrats, the operators of the Deep State, and those who simply do not like him as a person. Thus, the question arises: Are we a nation of laws or a nation of men?
We Americans, however, are not the first to face this question.
Recall, Socrates was tried and convicted on false evidence (fake news, if you will) and sentenced to death. Socrates knew he was innocent of the charges. But Socrates spent his life teaching that the law was the law and the law should be obeyed.
In the spirit of being true to his teachings, Socrates chose to self-execute himself by taking hemlock. Socrates did not commit suicide. Instead, he carried out the sentence of the court. Abiding by the law — albeit flawed in its application to Socrates — meant more to Socrates than life itself. Socrates believed in a higher law, a law handed down by the Gods, a Divine Law.
The Greek dramatist, Sophocles, wrote the tragedy “Antigone” in which Antigone is faced with a choice between obeying King Creon’s decree that the body of her slain brother, Polyneices, cannot be buried and seeing her brother’s body devoured by jackals. Even though Antigone knows she is committing a crime punishable by death, Antigone buries her brother.
“Why did you break my law?” asks King Creon. Antigone responds there is a higher law that commanded her to bury her brother. Antigone goes on to assert it is this higher law that gives King Creon his position to preside over others. Thus, Antigone argues it is in the self-interest of King Creon to rule in accordance with Divine Law.
Alas, her argument falls on deaf ears. King Creon locks Antigone in a cave to starve.
Spring forward to today: If one believes the U.S. Constitution is divinely inspired, one might side with Socrates and Antigone, contending we should be a nation of laws and not of men. If one thinks King Creon was correct to kill Antigone, then one might believe that we are a nation of men and not of laws. If the choice is between a duly elected President versus unelected Deep State bureaucrats can we learn something from the ancient Greeks? We report. You decide.
Nationally syndicated columnist and Grand County resident, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and was a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. Dr. Hamilton is the author of The Wit and Wisdom of William Hamilton: The Sage of Sheepdog Hill, Pegasus Imprimis Press (2017).
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