Essay topics: Claim: The surest indicator of a great nation is not the achievements of its rulers, artists, or scientists.
Reason: The surest indicator of a great nation is actually the welfare of all its people.
Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim and the reason on which that claim is based.
I strongly agree with the sentiment that the general well-being of a nation's people is the surest indicator of a great nation, as opposed to the achievements of a few great people. this is because the general well-being looks at the population as a whole, whereas the greatest rulers, artists and scientists will only ever compose a small fraction of the populace. Furthermore, many revered members of nations often become great through their own grit and determination, while the nation itself to which they were born into had very little significance to them. finally, we can't generalise and say all achievements, good or bad, can be what defines a country's greatness.
we should value the general well-being of a nation's people as a better indication of greatness as this considers every member of the society, no matter their position or social status. if we were to consider only the achievements of the best and brightest, we completely disregard 99% of the population. With stark inequality, we could very well have a case of a society so segregated that it pools all of its resources into a core group of scientists that greatly advance science, yet the vast majority live in squalor. Such a society would clearly not be seen as a great nation by a discerning eye, yet if we defined a nation's greatness by its scientific achievements this dysfunctional society would indeed be considered great.
In addition, we should consider the stories of the great people who started off with nothing. those who grew up in abject poverty yet made great contributions as rulers or towards science. In these cases, should the nation state where this great person was born take credit for this individual's achievements? I would argue this is clearly not the case. take for example Edmund Heaviside, who was raised on a farm in England and grew up to make great advances in physics and mathematics. In this case, would it really have made a difference where he was born? would he not have made the same contributions if he were born in France or germany instead? And so, it is clear that the achievements of individuals in a society can be a poor indicator of a nation's overall greatness.
Of course, one can make a stroung counterargument against this. it is very true that a consistent pattern of exceptional people emerging from a single country could be a testement to the nation's greatness. it could very well suggest a great educational system that discovers and nurtures talent from a young age, or innovative and flexical beaurocratic structures across the country. however, in this case I would argue that in these cases, a better measure of a country's greatness would be the overall structure of the country rather than the proxy that is the notable individuals who come out of the exceptional societal structure.
finally, we have to make the distinction between good and bad achievements for a country. we have to question whether it is truly worth valuing scientific achievements and great leaders above all else. For example, nazi germany had an exceptionally charismatic leader in Hitler and made rapid scientific achievements in V2 rockets among others. however, the clear cost to these achievements has been to the common people in germany, especially those in marginalised groups. can we really argue that a nation like nazi germany is greater than a society that focuses on the well-being of its citizens and treats them all as fairly as possible?
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