His speech today at the White House was short but thrilling to me. I am sure I am not alone in having this kind of intuitive sensation. He reminded me my intuition about logic more than personal history.
The logic in his speech made me feel that it can be summarized as philosophical. I wished to be a philosopher for a moment to have a discussion with another philosopher about democracy. Who said a country boy from rural Ethiopia can't wish to be a philosopher for a moment to talk to an accomplished and legendary American philosopher. As he would say, this is America with so many different views. It has given me a chance here to throw my views into it.
I summarize his philosophical speech in three words that he used: "Under law" and "experiment."
Here is what thrilled me and continues to thrill me about these words. I am in complete agreement with him about under law. As a philosopher for a moment wishing to talk to an accomplished philosopher, here is a simple question I would put to him. In the long history of humankind, is under law a reckoning or an experiment? This is not to dim by any bit the highly bright light he turned on today about democracy. Not at all. If anything, it is to brighten it if I can by any stretch of the imagination.
I posit that it has been postulated that under law is a reckoning that defined what it means to be human. A viable proof for this postulate is that humankind also reckons that lawlessness is not a practical alternative to under law.
It may be unsurprising if those who borrowed democracy from Classical Civilization called it an experiment in America. It is my understanding that those who posited that democracy defined what it means to be human in ancient Greece have already established that it was a reckoning.
I have argued before and continue to argue that people like Thomas Jefferson using democracy as an experiment instead of reckoning is reflective of his deficit of knowledge during his time. His pivot was Classical Civilization, not the ones that existed before it and visited by ancient Greece's seafarers. He also listed George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as those American leaders who have characterized democracy as an experiment.
Just yesterday, I was thinking to myself that if George Washington was alive today, he would mansplain to Fiona Hill, who once claimed to be from the same ancestral origin as he, that his experiment was for independence of the U.S.. not infringing on the independence of other countries. That would be a different type of reckoning in its own right. Or is it a mere extension of the same reckoning?
In full disclosure, I have a picture that was taken in rural Ethiopia close to two decades ago, which speaks a million words to explain under law was a reckoning, not an experiment. In my view, the difference between reckoning and experiment is that there is no second guessing in reckoning whereas it is possible if it is an experiment.
This is why I feel more optimistic about democracy after listening Justice Stephen Breyer's speech today. For a long time now, it has been my wish to have an artistic rendering of that picture for privacy of the people in the picture and shown to people who have any doubt that under law is a reckoning that started in an ancient time. It would very interesting to show it to the legendary justice and ask him if he sees a reckoning or an experiment in that picture.
Granted that the above postulate is irrefutable, we can all take it to all kinds of classrooms and teach that it is a reckoning or be proven wrong by any bright student.
I rest my case about the experiment being reflective of the deficit of knowledge about democracy when America's founding fathers borrowed it from ancient Greece.
For those who have not heard the speech but interested to hear it, here is a recording of it posted online.