Don’t be an idiot: Glimpses of classical Greek spirit on July 4th and July 14th

Dimitris Tsingos
2 min readJul 14, 2022

In our small country history plays a vital role in our lives. Throughout the years we spend in school, we keep learning about our glorious ancestors and the incredible things they managed to do. Much as history of this caliber undoubtedly is something to be very proud of, if someone looks at modern Greece, they’ll probably find very few surviving pieces of this greatness.

One of the worst words one could use in ancient Athens for calling someone else, was the word ‘idiot’. The original meaning of the word was very different than the one in modern English; idiot means nothing but ‘private’, describing the persons who only cares for themselves and not for the community, for the general welfare. In a way, the ‘idiot’ is just the opposite of the ‘citizen’.

In the first half of July there are two great celebrations: The Independence Day is celebrated in the US on July 4th and the Storming of Bastille is celebrated in France on July 14th, commemorating two incredibly important events of the 18th century, which really managed to take forward the whole humanity.

I often wonder if anything has survived from the spirit of the Greek classical era. Looking at those two celebrations, one comes to the conclusion that they were act of citizens; that in those two countries, thanks to certain circumstances and dynamics, the peoples of America and Frances did manage to rise from the level of the ‘idiot’ and act collectively for the greater, common good. I can hardly find any better example in modern history of what the classical Greek spirit is about.

With those thoughts, I’d like to extend my warmest wishes to our friends in the US and in France for their national days. And to wholeheartedly thank them for honoring the memory of their ancestors who reminded the word that greatness and true meaning in life can be found in being a citizen, rather than an idiot.

Now, for us all, it is perhaps a good time to think whether we truly are citizens or have we fallen down to the level of an idiot. Let’s think, judge and act accordingly.