Was uns die alten Griechen geben

Barack Obamas leidenschaftliches Plädoyer für die Demokratie

Kurz nach der Wahl des neuen US-Präsidenten Donald Trump hat der scheidende Präsident Barack Obama seine Abschiedsreise nach Europa angetreten. Seine erste Station war am 16. November 2016 Griechenland, wo er in der Hauptstadt Athen die Akropolis besuchte und anschließend im Athener Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center eine bemerkenswerte Rede über das Thema Demokratie hielt.

Dabei äußerte er sich unter anderem über die Bedeutung der alten Griechen:

"As many of you know, this is my final trip overseas as President of the United States, and I was determined, on my last trip, to come to Greece -- partly because I’ve heard about the legendary hospitality of the Greek people -- your φιλοξενία. Partly because I had to see the Acropolis and the Parthenon. But also because I came here with gratitude for all that Greece -- “this small, great world” -- has given to humanity through the ages.

Our hearts have been moved by the tragedies of Aeschylus and Euripides. Our minds have been opened by the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides. Our understanding of the world and our place in it has been expanded by Socrates and Aristotle. [...]

Most of all, we’re indebted to Greece for the most precious of gifts -- the truth, the understanding that as individuals of free will, we have the right and the capacity to govern ourselves. For it was here, 25 centuries ago, in the rocky hills of this city, that a new idea emerged. Δημοκρατία. Κράτος -- the power, the right to rule -- comes from δῆμος -- the people. The notion that we are citizens -- not servants, but stewards of our society. The concept of citizenship -- that we have both rights and responsibilities. The belief in equality before the law -- not just for a few, but for the many; not just for the majority, but also the minority. These are all concepts that grew out of this rocky soil.

Of course, the earliest forms of democracy here in Athens were far from perfect -- just as the early forms of democracy in the United States were far from perfect. The rights of ancient Athens were not extended to women or to slaves. But Pericles explained, “our constitution favors the many instead of the few…this is why it is called a democracy.”

Athenians also knew that, however noble, ideas alone were not enough. To have meaning, principles must be enshrined in laws and protected by institutions, and advanced through civic participation. And so they gathered in a great assembly to debate and decide affairs of state, each citizen with the right to speak, casting their vote with a show of hands, or choosing a pebble -- white for yes, black for no. Laws were etched in stone for all to see and abide by. Courts, with citizen jurors, upheld that rule of law. Politicians weren’t always happy because sometimes the stones could be used to ostracize, banish those who did not behave themselves."

Der Wortlaut der gesamten Rede ist unter der Internetadresse des Weißen Hauses veröffentlicht.

Text: Frau Dr. Weber (Schuljahr 2016/17)

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