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    The Marathon, Democracy

    It's Marathon Monday in Boston, the second Marathon since the bombing. A Massachusetts jury is currently deciding whether the surviving bomber should serve life in prison or be executed, but that jury  will not meet today, because it is a holiday. Today is Patriot's Day.

    There's a school of thought, what I call the "Never Forget" school of responding to terrorism, that would make the Boston Marathon primarily, now and forever, into a memorial to the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon. That attack would become the main meaning of every future Marathon. But that would be a terrible mistake. For starters, the Marathon is already a memorial.
    The Marathon celebrates at least two great moments in the history of democracy. The event and its name celebrate the Athenian victory over the Persian Empire at Marathon in 490 BC. The Marathon is Boston's attempt to align itself with the idealized version Athenian democracy that early Americans took as a model. On a more concrete level the day of the Marathon, Patriot's Day, memorializes the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775, when the Massachusetts Minutemen stood up to the British Army. 
    Neither of those two events should take a back seat in historical memory to the Tsarnaev brothers and their grubby little bombs. The bombing is not the most important thing that has ever happened in Boston; it's not even in the top one hundred. I'm not proposing forgetting it. But I refuse to promote that day above our better and more historic days. I refuse to make our story about our pain instead of our achievements. I will not bump the Minutemen out in order to make this day about the Tsarnaevs, who are nothing. I wouldn't bump Phedippides, the first marathoner, either. 
    (And don't you dare suggest that we talk less about Joanie Benoit. I don't live in Boston anymore, but I'm still from Boston, and anyone who disrespects Joanie is officially on notice.)
    Democracy is a marathon: long, difficult, and tedious. It requires patience. It doesn't do things the quick way. The lazy and short-sighted can't imagine why anyone would bother, when you could just have a tyrant and an SUV. And democracy, like the marathon, can be painful. It often requires you to keep moving forward and put the pain out of your mind, to forget the hurt and remember the prize ahead. That is a good lesson. The ancient Athenians invented both of these institutions and the Athenians, frankly, could be a little crazy. The marathon, like democracy, asks a just little more of us than the human spirit can be expected to bear, and it offers us victories of the spirit that seem just beyond human grasp. Their is no better celebration, no better tribute.
    Happy Patriot's Day.


    I keep thinking of the Spartans.

    Boys were taken from their mamas at an early age and headed for the Greek Boy Scouts.

    And they were taught how to kill by age six.

    The Athenians held 80 percent? of their population as slaves.

    Do what you are told.

    Sorry, but this sounds like the RNC today. hahahahah

    But I love this blog.

    Damn I love this blog.

    No dynamite in those days.

    And the Boston Marathon kept on with proper help from the security guys.

    I ran two marathons in Minnesota in my thirties.

    It is a fun run.

    It is hard, and it takes real training.

    And when you finish, you accomplished something.

    I miss those days.

    Thank you..

    A German guy(either Grote or Gomme, I don't remember which) estimated that somewhat over a third of the population of Athens/Attica were slaves. That is still considered pretty credible.

    You are correct and I stand corrected. 80% could not vote and that figure would include women of course. This all after the changes made by Solon,an ancestor of Plato.

    Oh I had another thought that will not go away.

    Did the actual elegible voters in 1789 really comprise more than 20% of its inhabitants?

    Slaves could not vote of course.

    Women could not vote.

    In many places, men without property could not vote.

    I guess this more modern cradle of democracy (with a small 'd') was not much more progressive than Ancient Athens. hahahahah

    Even with the wisdom of the 6th century progressive, Solon.

    Beautifully written, Doc.  I've never been to Boston but I surely don't want the bombing to be the only thing Boston is noted for from now on.  I admire the marathon organizers and runners for keeping it real and not letting the event become what could be a decades-long maudlin memorial.  Boston is much more than that.

    I had to look up Joanie Benoit.  Sorry.  But I'm glad I did. 

    Thanks, Mona. And I am also glad that you looked up Joan Benoit.

    If I got you to learn about her ... mission accomplished!


    In other words, why give the bombers a footnote in history? Do they deserve to be remembered for their act of savagery against innocent bystanders? Wouldn't observing the anniversary of that day be the same as creating an annual day of mourning in which they will be forever remembered until the end of time for their actions?


    However, people do have short memories. For instance, everyone knows about Pearl Harbor, but not too many people remember the significance of the day or the day itself. ... it's been forgotten in time. And soon, the last remaining survivors of the day on the island will be gone and so too will the last marine and sailor who fought in the theater. Once they're gone, only the US Navy will remember and honor them, and perhaps a nightly news segment somewhere in America.

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