As we celebrate the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation, it is important to remember just how young our country is. Much of what makes America the greatest country in the world comes from global powers that ruled the world long before the Stars and Stripes even existed. Greece may be the single country that has helped shape not only the United States, but also the world the most.
Greece’s most well known gift to the world may be the Olympics. The roots of mass competitive sports, which present-day American’s worship, are found in ancient Greece. Similarly, ancient Greeks were some of the first people to entertain themselves through theater and singing. Many of the most popular plays from the ancient Greek era are still performed and studied today. Scientifically, the Greeks were the first to approach some of the world’s greatest mysteries in a systematic fashion. The father of medicine, Hippocrates was the first physician to take scientific approach to diagnosing and treating patients. Moreover, Greeks pioneered the field of astronomy by developing some of the first explanations for the universe around them. Perhaps most importantly, the Greeks developed a style of government that most of today’s leading nations have adopted and built upon: democracy. Before Cleisthenes’ reformed the Athens constitution and gave the power to the people, Greece, like much of the world, had always been led by a monarchy. Without these Greek influences, much of what we love about the United States would not be the same.
When speaking about the importance and prominence of Greece, French politician, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing explained, “Europe without Greece is like a child without a birth certificate.” One can easily stretch that argument and claim the world, as we know it today, without Greece is like a child without a birth certificate. The country’s timeline boasts an outstanding amount of achievements, and its history is filled with some of the most influential men of all time. Still, Greece finds itself weakening as the years pass, and the likelihood of a European Union exit is higher than ever. The saddest part of all is the fact that Greeks have done this to themselves. Greece used the prestige of its fellow union members to borrow and spend more money than they can ever repay. Far too many of its citizens retire too early boasting hefty pensions, and just as many do not pay taxes to begin with. The Greek economy has failed and its government leaders refuse to take responsibility and properly reform Greek policy. Although the Greek empire has long been dead, the country has never been this weak. So, while most of us will spent this past weekend celebrating the 239th birthday of the United States of America, it seems as though we could have been preparing for the death of Greece as a respectable global power.