Moving to a new country was a big deal to Imam Malik Mujahid. That’s why he read six different countries’ constitutions before making the decision to move from his home in Pakistan to America.
In the eyes of Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Americans take their freedom for granted. As he spoke to the Chautauquans packed in and around the Hall of Philosophy at 3:30 p.m. Monday, he drew upon history and tradition to illustrate how vital it is that Americans engage in the discussion of freedom.
He admitted that in his younger years, he thought democracy could be given like a gift. He joked that some people think they can introduce democracy to a country, wipe their hands and say goodbye, and then democracy will be magically “installed.”
The prominent figures of Athenian society — Socrates, Aristotle, Plato — are widely considered to be the forerunners of American democracy. But according to Hunter Rawlings, classicist and president of the Association of the American Universities, these giants of history had little influence on Thomas Jefferson and the writing of the Declaration of Independence — and thus little influence on the democracy Americans enjoy today.
Rawlings’ 10:45 a.m. morning lecture in the Amphitheater was preceded by a performance by Bill Barker, a Thomas Jefferson interpreter dressed in full 18th-century regalia, complete with a tri-corner hat.