Have you been too busy to formulate a philosophy to guide you through life? It seems that too many of us are preoccupied with surviving in the present chaotic world. The way I want to live can wait until I figure out a few other things, such as converting my life to the shocking things on the internet. When things settle down, I’ll google “philosophy.” If my grandchildren can do this, maybe I can, too.
Philosophy got its start soon after God gave man a brain to think lofty thoughts. Obviously, man would want to live a good life after he learned to get along with other neighborly human beings whose lives seem to be in disarray.
We usually think of philosophy and philosophers as something out of our range, “big” words that will wear you out just thinking about it. However, when man was first introduced to life on earth, he soon realized he needed a plan to live the kind of life to get the most from it. He could take each day at a time and let the debris fall or live a “planned” life without permanently residing in Bonkersville.
It’s a mystery why the ancient Greeks were so good at philosophising well before Christianity made its move. You’ve probably heard, “He needs to get religion.” After creation, it didn’t take humans long to do that. Take your pick — Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Judaism, Atheism and about 30 other isms to bow down to. My folks picked the Baptists, because it was the closest church to our house.
Back three or four centuries B.C., a handful of Greeks — primarily Aristotle, Plato and Socrates — sat around thinking about how to live a good life. It is not recorded how they made a living. Perhaps the commoners were starved for intellectual stimulation and began buying philosophical books authored by those brainy-type folks relaxed at a marketplace where the masses come and go.
We often think this philosophical stuff is too deep or not worth the effort. I have access to a smartphone that answers any question when on the go. But I hesitate googling what the meaning of my life is. Why dig deep and be covered with mud? I can already instantly communicate with anyone on earth. And if I want to communicate with a higher spiritual power, all it takes is total focus in solitude. They don’t make earplugs to shut out alarming noises. Ever hear a politician close his mouth?
That unique Greek clan didn’t live in the clouds or in a dense fog. They were “normal” guys with considerable common sense. Most of the stuff they wrote was practical and down to earth. “Know thyself,” was a popular Greek aphorism, attributed to Socrates, but also addressed by Plato and Aristotle. Socrates also said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Like everything else, I’ll get on it when I get a break.
A good life is an honest one as Socrates explained, “An honest man is always a child,” but admitted, “I was really too honest to be a politician and live.” And before Facebook over 300 years ago, Socrates warned us, “Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.”
Knowing thyself made sense then and particularly now. If you don’t know yourself, how do you know what to do with your life? More importantly, what if you were introduced to yourself, through psychiatry, and didn’t like yourself? Your marriage was on the ropes and your children kept asking, “Who’s he?”
Philosophy does consider that human behavior can change. Knowing thyself is knowing you can become a better human being. If you do, then animals will like you better, too. Aristotle said, “In all things in nature there is something of the marvelous.” During a down day, why not look on the marvelous side? It’s our choice.
Approaching 2020 with America divided in half, do we have a choice? The president says he knows who he is, but the flock of Democratic candidates are debating who and what they are. The president says, it’s my way; the Democrats say, no way.
If you want to escape to a marvelous life, return to the wilds where nature abounds. Human nature has a long way to go, that might take a century or two.
Living a simple and good life down on earth opens a gate to a promised peaceful place that shines with bright stars, giving light to the dark.
— Contact Terry Cummins at TLCTLC@AOL.com