Thought For The Day - The Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks - 05/07/2013
My thoughts today are with the people of Egypt as they wait to see the results of their second revolution in two years: first the overthrow of President Mubarak, and now the overthrow of President Morsi, elected just a year ago by democratic vote.
What the future will bring we cannot know. But surely we have just witnessed an extraordinarily deep truth about the nature of politics.
We owe our way of talking about politics to the ancient Greeks, in particular to the citizens of Athens some twenty six centuries ago. It was they who coined the word democracy, and they who, under Solon, created its first incarnation.
It was a dazzling idea: government of the people, by the people, for the people. Yet not many centuries later the citizens of Athens saw the system they had created descend into tyranny. Along the way they sentenced one of their greatest thinkers, Socrates, to death for corrupting the young by teaching them to think for themselves. The road to freedom is long and hard and it always will be.
The danger of democracy, said John Stuart Mill, is that it can lead to the tyranny of the majority and hence the oppression of minorities. A democratic vote does not in and of itself create a free society. For that you need other things as well: respect for minorities, justice and the impartial rule of law, a collective commitment to the common good, and a delicate balance of rights and responsibilities...