More Socrates, Please
In considering modern politics today, we could use a few more Socratic characters. Too often, our country and our people fall victim to those who think they are wise. We have seen this especially in the past year. Oil companies feel their technology is too advanced to have faults. Corporations and high-power individuals have nearly limitless power in placing people’s money and time. Politicians make shady deals and assume their careers will go unscathed. Where is the voice of reason and truth? Perhaps if there were a member of society forcing these powerful individuals to take a second look at their actions, we would avoid all of the harm caused by those who fail to consider the consequences?
Society puts an overwhelming amount of faith in those that are regarded to be the wisest: the investment banker who makes six figures, the CEO of a large corporation, the elected official who plasters on a great smile. But I have to ask, why? What, other than their high status in society, makes them trustworthy figures? In The Apology, Socrates notes, “those who had the highest reputation were nearly the most deficient, while those who were thought to be inferior were more knowledgeable” (22a). This summer I watched yet another governor (Rod Blagojevich) be sentenced to time behind bars, so this quote rings especially true. I often ask myself, “How and why do these people get elected to lead us?” And why, then, do we trust these individuals with possessions so valuable as our hard earned money, our environment, and our lives?
This post is not intended to discount the leadership of our country, but rather, to ask why we fail to question the wisdom of the leaders who seem to fail us all too often.