Declaration of Dependence

by Karen Topakian

As our nation feverishly celebrates its independence, I’d like to celebrate my dependence….

Dependence on these words in the Declaration of Independence: We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Dependence on the tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Dependence on the mission of the Declaration of Environmental Rights & Responsibilities: We, the future leaders of the world, in an effort to balance social equity, economic prosperity, and ecological integrity, establish that the environment has rights needing to be respected and that the citizens of the world have responsibilities toward the environment and the community that must be fulfilled.

And finally my dependence on my family and friends to help keep me safe, sane, secure, well loved and far from the path of straight and narrow.



Ancient Greeks could teach us a thing or two about democracy

by Karen Topakian

On a recent trip to Greece, I once again became enamored with the political system they developed and codified 2,500 years ago. Democracy. Literally. It means people power.

Of course not all people were included in their newly developed form of governance. Only male citizens of double descent need apply. (Both mother and father had to be Athenians) No women. No foreigners. Certainly no slaves could enter this closed society. But for those who passed the test, they could reap the benefits.

Let’s look at what their democracy had to offer.

In 508 B.C, when Cleisthenes instituted democracy in Athens, he formed Council of Five Hundred, which planned the business of the public assemblies. All male citizens over the age of 30 could serve for two one-year terms in a lifetime. This allowed all citizens to participate in a direct political experience. This rule he thought would guard against citizens conspiring to abolish the system.

What a novel idea. No opportunity for professional politicians. Everyone gets a chance to serve. Sound like a good idea?

The Council seemed to act as public administrators because they “scrutinized the qualifications of officials and the allocation of funds. They looked after the construction of docks and surveyed public buildings. They collected rent on public land and oversaw the redistribution of confiscated property. Members of the Council were also responsible for examining the horses of the cavalry, administering state pensions and receiving foreign delegations. In other words, the Council was responsible for the smooth running of the daily operations of the Athenian city-state.”

Here’s another feature of their democracy that we should try.


A reverse election, whereby citizens could vote to exile a politician for 10 years. At least 6,000 citizens had to vote to oust the politician for the vote to be valid.

Imagine voting someone out of office not just in. I don’t know about you but I’ve got a short list in my head right now.

A third feature of their system that might be worth emulating: providing government subsidies to poor people for their attendance at theatrical performances and festivals. These indirect payments by the state not only subsidized the poor but also built audiences and supported the arts.

See anything here you like?