As we simulated an Athenian Assembly for the electorate in class, it was hard to ignore the uncanny similarities in today’s society. The issues that were encountered during the electorate was the debate on whether to include metics as citizens and allowing them to vote. This exact hot button topic is mirrored in today’s society in the United State regarding immigration policy. As a society, we find it hard to accept outsiders and include the unknown into the known. It is this that has caused decades of controversy, it happened back then, and as the famous quote, “history is bound to repeat itself.”
Some of the arguments that were presented during the assembly in support of metics being able to vote, were that these people have been living amongst the Athenians for so long, and should be included. On the other hand, others argued that it should only be granted to those who were very deserving of the privilege to be a citizen of Athens. Some of the criteria presented was highly educated, military service, constant alignment and support for Athenian government. Another group of people argued that no citizenship should be granted ever and they should not be allowed to vote.
We see this mirrored in today’s society where there is constant division on immigration policy. Should the sons and daughters of illegal immigrants be punished and not given a chance solely based on their parents’ decision to put them there? Should mercy be granted to these families, and let them earn their citizenship through higher education, and loyalty to the United States government? All of this is considered as reform after reform is passed to either aid, or disrupt progression for immigration policy. Just as Lysias, a metic says, “But they were wronging us on account of money, in the way that others might who are angry at great injustices. We did not deserve these things with respect to the city, but had fulfilled all our choregic duties, and had paid many special taxes; we were orderly and did what was assigned us, made no enemies, and ransomed many Athenians from our foes. They deemed us worthy of such treatment, and as citizens conducting the government behaved far differently than we who were metics.” It is unjust to simply ignore the struggle and work that immigrants put in simply because they are different than the established culture.
In modern day immigration people currently live in fear that they cannot or will not even be given the opportunity to earn their way into this country. A documentary series on Netflix introduces families that live in the United States and are here for various reasons, coming from different backgrounds and having different instances that anchor them to this country. For instance, a family that is on the verge of being split even though the father serves in the Marine Corps, the fact that this isn’t enough to grant the family citizenship or at least permanent residence, is what ties the past to present day issues.
One thought on “History is Bound to Repeat itself”
I would encourage you to consider the differences between Athens as it was in the Assembly and modern day America. I do not disagree with your statement, but for the sake of argument, it can be said that these two societies, though following a similar political structure, are very different. I would argue that Athens did not suffer from such modern crises as overpopulation. It can also be said that Metics were granted citizenship based on servitude and other assets they offered the city of Athens, such as education. Can the same be said for the Dreamers? What, then, would be an acceptable reason to retain them in the United States?