Can the "Greater Good" Exist in Democracy?

During a discussion about classical and western cultural influences in my Odysseus in America class, I can not help but wonder: why do humans have such a greedy nature?

Well, it all goes back to the old ways of Greek culture.

The founding fathers of America were heavily influenced by the classics, and more specifically, the Romans and Greeks during the peloponnesian and Trojan wars. Ancient, bloody wars where the hero tended to be a white male who came back to his wife in waiting at his thriving palace. Looking at famous capitol buildings, it’s easy to see how they treasured the ideas of Greek and Roman culture by making themselves feel like gods.

In ancient Greece, the individuals who thrived in politics and class were the ones that could do the best in the olympic games. Brawn, rather than brains, were valued and treasured in their ranks. Most ancient Greek rulers tended to double as war generals. They also were treated as god-like figures.

Looking on America now, it’s difficult to see a change from this primitive mindset centered on violence and brawn.

With the current occupant of the oval office dead set on expanding our military defenses, blocking borders and forcing families apart, I can vividly picture Trump being the ringmaster in the center of the ancient Olympic games, while everyone else who he doesn’t agree with locked out of the stadium.

So, in moments like this, the general population can feel powerless to help others, and can struggle to grapple with the issues and constant need for reform in the political structure of a Democratic society.

Seemingly, a common trend I’ve been noticing recently (which could stem from this feeling of powerlessness) in American politics and society is an aim to help the “greater good” of all people.

A question, though: What does “the greater good” even mean?

The greater good of all people? It seems difficult to obtain such a thing.

For example, with the progression of technology and education, more and more factory jobs are being offered to machinery. Business owners are benefiting in the long run, since they no longer have to pay hourly wages. But, what happens to those who previously had those jobs? Or, those who cannot afford a higher education, have to care for their families, or who are stuck in a constant cycle of social oppression and factory jobs? What happens to immigrants who cannot get jobs and are stuck in a never ending cycle of misrepresentation and greed from various business owners?

This is where “the greater good” is lost on me.

This is one topic I’ve been pondering for some time: it seems as though people who say they are helping the “greater good”, even though they could potentially have pure intentions, some still want the image of helping others for their campaign, resume, or social status.

Politicians or citizens can claim they are helping their idea of the “greater good”, and that they are “benefiting the people”, but the truth is, they are benefiting only a small and elite portion of people. Even more of an elitist group decides on what is defined as “the greater good” in government, or those who have the resources to “help” others. The majority? Seemingly swept to the dust.

It saddens me that there’s so much to fight for still — that everything is in a perpetual process of pain & progression. If people no longer turned their heads to adversity, then there could be less oppression. But, we still march on, signs held up high in protest towards helping “the greater good”, or maybe, just the idea of it.