Hitchhiker’s bLOG – 2020.03.24

How we use words

A leader of the city-state of Athens in the 7th century B.C. was a man named Dracon (Δράκων); pronounced Drah-Kone. His name means “Lawgiver”, and he was the first to create a written law for the city-state. The law was often harse prescribing enslavement for debtors and capital punishment, especially for a lower class person who committed petty larceny. Yikes!

Dracon of Athens

If his name sounds familiar, that is because he became an adjective meaning excessively harsh and severe. That word is DRACONIAN.

When you think of draconian regimes, who comes to mind? I think of Hitler and the Nazis with their slaughter of Communists, Jews, homosexuals, disabled persons, etc. Or maybe Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge who targeted and slaughtered Cambodian civil servants, physicians, teachers, professionals, and dissidents in what has infamously become known as “The Killing Fields.”

Okay Hitchhiker, why focus on Dracon and draconian regimes? It is because the word draconian is now being used by the news media and politicians to describe the measures being taken to fight the coronavirus. Is this really the proper use of the word?

Hitler killed millions because they were, in his opinion, enemies of the Reich! Pol Pot because he was looking to reeducate an entire country, and leaders and educated people were seen as a threat! Dracon had people killed for stealing a cabbage; for crying out loud!

a government Trying to protect its people from a deadly virus, in my humble opinion, is not draconian! it’s caring.

So the next time you hear someone use the word “draconian” to describe the measures taken to save peoples lives, or any usage describing rules put forth by a body of leadership that does not rise to the level of excessive harshness or severity (your High School principal is not draconian), call them out! Chances are this is political speak.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:1-3

One thought on “Hitchhiker’s bLOG – 2020.03.24

  1. Interesting that all of these Tyrants (meaning to come to power outside the constitution of the State) came to power when society was out of balance with their constitution or their normal lives. There was discord with the people and the constitution could not right the imbalance. We are out of balance with the rights of the individual and the community. Watching the news on how Korea is solving this problem brings to mind their focus on the group rather than the individual. In the US, we hold the rights of the individual much higher – hence some of the conflict with dealing effectively with the virus (a community problem). Neither is right or wrong until it falls out of balance.

    Jesus the Christ call us into communion – literally community union – yet He values each one of us as individuals. Christ is the balance, he calls us to love one another as well as ourselves. To do this in balance we need to focus on the Christ – He calls us into New Being and challenges each of us to balance community and individual. This is His constitution which cannot be overthrown by an outsider – because he is all in all.


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