Democracy Through Time

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Democracy Through Time

Democracy as a concept has changed and evolved through the years. Lao-Tzu, a Chinese philosopher, advised a form of government that had many democratic values to his emperor. His work, Tao-te Ching, was written in the sixth century B.C. before the term democracy was even coined. Some time later, in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., the Greeks gave this idea a name and put it into effect. In the work The Origin of Civil Society (1762) Jean-Jacques Rousseau argues for peoples basic rights, and dabbles on the topic of people governing themselves, which is in essence democracy. Thomas Jefferson, a man that borrowed profusely from Rousseau, also wrote a work that heavily favored the basic right of democracy. His influential work is our very own Declaration of Independence (1776).

The idea of democracy is a timeless one. Before the term for democracy was given, the notion that people are better off governing themselves for the benefit of society as a whole was in the minds of philosophers. One such thinker was Lao-tzu. He advised his emperor to "Practice not-doing, and everything will fall into place."(p.22) Lao-tzu essentially wanted the emperor to trust the people and know that they are better off free. If they are free to govern themselves everything will workout for itself. Today, in a democratic nation, people possess freedom. They are free to vote, for or against potential leaders in government. This is placing much trust in the people, because their voting could potentially alter the way they are governed. They are free to purchase and sell land, they can marry almost whomever they want, and are free to speak against things that upset them. As a democratic nation, people will govern themselves in a way that is for the benefit of society. Lao-tzu points to a ruler that "has let go" so that "he can care for the people's welfare" (p.28). Our nation takes many great steps in caring for the people's welfare....
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