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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sunday Meditation: What We Can Learn from Socrates -- Humility!

It's easy to go through life just meeting the challenges of the moment. We live in a noisy and busy world and it's easy never to seriously reflect on life and the big questions. Why am I here? What am I meant to do? Where am I going?

The Greek philosopher Socrates said the "unexamined life is not worth living." What did he mean? He was seeker after truth. And, in fact, he spent his life pursuing it and looking for someone who was wise. He never found anyone and came to realize that wisdom lay in knowing how little we know. Socrates never wrote anything, but his pupil, Plato, did and we have him to thank for what we know of Socrates. In the Apology Plato attributed this to Socrates:

…I went to one who had the reputation of wisdom, and observed him—his name I need not mention; he was a politician whom I selected for examination—and the result was as follows: When I began to talk with him, I could not help thinking that he was not really wise, although he was thought wise by many, and still wiser by himself; and thereupon I tried to explain to him that he thought himself wise, but was not really wise; and the consequence was that he hated me, and his enmity was shared by several who were present and heard me. So I left him, saying to myself, as I went away: Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is,—for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows; I neither know nor think that I know. In this latter particular, then, I seem to have slightly the advantage of him. Then I went to another who had still higher pretensions to wisdom, and my conclusion was exactly the same. Whereupon I made another enemy of him, and of many others besides him. 
Does this sound familiar? Think of the polarization of our own country and the politicians with such inflated views of their wisdom and what's good for the country -- like abortion, assisted suicide, etc. Socrates made many enemies because he asked questions that exposed their ignorance. Ultimately their hatred led to his execution as an enemy of the state. He stirred up trouble, they said, and scandalized the youth. But all he really did was try to make people think. He asked questions with logical follow-ups that confounded those he questioned and demonstrated how little they knew. He wasn't trying to make them look like fools; they did that themselves. But they hated Socrates for it.

Asking questions is often a dangerous pursuit, especially when you question the status quo and what is accepted as the way things are or ought to be. In today's politically correct world we see that demonstrated daily. Ignorant students on college campuses attack those who raise questions. Soros-funded organizations disrupt the meetings of those, like Socrates, who dare to challenge the liberal status quo.

Socrates was a humble man and, in many ways, an important role model for us. If he ever met Jesus, I have no doubt he would have been a disciple, because he knew the one BIG TRUTH:
"God only is wise...the wisdom of men is worth little or nothing....He, O men is the wisest who like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."
We need more students of Socrates on college campuses today!

The Bible affirms what Socrates believed when it tells us "Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." We find it on our knees. Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

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