This is not the first time a democratic nation has been hit by both a cultural revolt and an epidemic at the same time. In ancient Rome, when the poor had their property seized for debts, they marched across the city and out of town several miles in protest. This symbolized the fact that wealthy Romans were effectively driving them homeless into the countryside.
Next, the wealthy class demanded that many of the poor be sent out to colonize an area where people were still dying in a plague. Plutarch writes, “The authorities were thrusting these poor citizens into a plague pit by sending them to a city where the air was full of infection and the stench of unburied corpses.”
Many black and Hispanic people today live in neighborhoods, workplaces and nursing homes where their lives are threatened just as openly and directly as the lives of poor Romans were 2,500 years ago.
The Roman plebeians forced the appointment of special advocates called “tribunes” to champion their issues. Will Black Lives Matter succeed in making reforms that are long overdue in our democracy?
Woods Cross, Utah