Hammurabi Versus Gandhi

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12842

If you've been around people for awhile (and of course you have!), you've noticed that it's often difficult to get along. That's just the way the world is. Read about two leaders and their solutions!


World Cultures

Social Studies
learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Wouldn't it be great to be able to do what you want without any laws?

Of course, everyone else would live lawless lives as well, which might affect you in a way you wouldn't like!

There has to be some solution to the world's problems — meet a couple of thinkers with different ideas and see what you think!

The great British thinker Thomas Hobbes once said that without civilization, our lives would be “nasty, brutish, and short.”

Civilization and strong government help solve some of the worst of life’s problems. By settling down, growing their food, and creating a regulated way of life, humans found that they could build a better and longer life. Still, there would be challenges.

Civilization made it possible to create more food and wealth than ever, but it also caused a greater gap between rich and poor. Societies became more complex as populations increased and people competed for wealth, position, and power.

  • How would it be possible to deal with these and other problems?
  • How would it be possible to bring justice to these societies?

There are a few possible solutions.

The first is to develop a government that enjoys complete control over society.

The ruler, or group of rulers, do as they please. They own the entire realm and decide how wealth and resources will be spent. Anyone who disagrees could simply be imprisoned, tortured, or killed.

medieval king

Another possible solution would be to create a system of laws — still enforced by the rulers — that try to keep balance in society.

These laws would provide basic protections to all citizens. They would define acts considered crimes and outline the punishments for those crimes.

This way, the wealthy could retain power, but the rest of society would enjoy fairness.

judge gavel

A third way would seek to make civilization fairer is by changing the way people feel about their fellow human beings.

If we could get everyone to feel what it’s like to be poor, unfairly treated, or oppressed, then everyone — including the wealthy ruling class — would be more likely to act fairly and justly toward all.

man eating with a homeless man

Go back over those three ways of building a stable civilization. Reflect on the following questions as you read and record your reflections in your notebook or journal.

  • Which of these three solutions do you like best? Why?
  • Which of these three do you think is the most viable long-term solution to the problems of civilization? What makes you think so?
  • Do you think the problems of crime and injustice in society will ever be solved? Why or why not?

This is a tough set of problems to solve. The question of how to make society safe, balanced, and just is as hard to answer today as ever!

Some people believe we need strong governments that enforce order without question, even through violence. Others feel that we need to patiently spread a sense of cooperation in a completely non-violent way.

In the Got It? section read about two thinkers at opposite ends of history who represent some of these ideas.

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