The current federal government shutdown is being analyzed and watched from every angle by every person and reporter the world over. It has stopped being about the issues and rather about the people that fill the congressional halls. We hear less about policy and more about specific people and how they affect the current political climate.
Shutdowns have happened before in our governments past and while these shutdowns have all been worked out, this time it is no longer about compromise but rather about a party giving in and backing down. Congress has not forgotten about the people they are effecting but it seems as if these people have fallen by the wayside, further demonstrating the ever-widening gap between the affluent and the poor.
This gap is nothing new, it has been seen again and again throughout history and it has not always worked as well for people on either side but there are times when it has. If we look back to 6th century BCE Greece the Athenians faced a period of time where the wealthy and the poor were so divided it was creating stress in nearly every aspect of culture. The poor were not admitted into politics, their children would be taken away to be sold and those above them could confiscate their wealth.
I do not intend to claim that the US government has reached the levels of 6th century Athens, nor do I think they ever will, but the divide now could be considered as bad in different ways. People elect congressman who may claim they understand the needs of the average citizen, but they may not have an interest in truly helping these people.
In Greece it took a man named Solon, a lawmaker, to truly help the suffering poor by instituting all kinds of reforms for the poor. He released all enslaved Athenians and prevented people from using a debtor’s person as the payment or security for a loan. He encouraged trade with other areas and allowed for reforms that took the four main tribes that had divided Athens and split them among ten new ones to help balance the views that had before divided the country. A country that currently reflects our own and should be looked on as an example of success surviving these divisions.
It took one man’s perseverance and willingness to work with both the poor and the affluent in 6th BCE to solve a crisis that spanned economic, political, and societal divides and maybe it is time that congress looked back to this era and think about what the perseverance of many could do. Congress needs to be about understanding the needs of all, especially those they represent who might not be able to speak for themselves and not themselves and the views of their party. Congress needs to look back on the times before that made it through these periods of division and learn from them before the division becomes too wide to close.