I was reading about Plato, a student of Socrates from age 20. He established his school of philosophy in Athens in 388 BC. Plato tells us that Socrates never wrote anything down, preferring his discourse in questions and face-to-face meetings in his quest to find truth in all matters, to be educated and briefed by men and women known for their wisdom, for the sole purpose of discovering Truth.
It is as a long time student of Socrates and continued studies of him after his death, that Plato tells us he presumes to write and complete words and discourses in the name of Socrates.
Apparently unlike Socrates, Plato did not participate in civic life in Athens, being more interested in the philosophy of politics. He is said to have been consulted by statesmen both at home and abroad.
I dare say if he were alive today perhaps the democratic countries would now be consulting with Socrates over foreign and home politics and affairs.
In his introductory note, Plato informs that Socrates was born in 469 BC, was trained in his father’s art but
“gave it up early to devote his time to the search for truth and virtue.” He didn’t operate like other philosophers of his time, choosing rather to engage in conversations as opposed to lecturing and teaching. His desire was to engage others in a conversation in order to have them think clearly and act reasonably. He never professed himself to be knowledgeable, except for his own ignorance. He lived his life open to, “learn from anyone who professed to know.”
He gathered a following of enemies because of the way he acted and was finally accused of “introducing new gods and of corrupting the youth.”
The description of the ensuing trial of Socrates and his defense is found in Plato’s writing, “Apology,” which I will be using as the source of my information and commentary.
The reason I am writing this is to clearly demonstrate that nothing has changed in the matter of politics and truth since approximately 400 BC, or even earlier! Dare I say that if it has changed it is not for the good?
The Apology of Socrates
When Socrates was sued by his accusers, at age 70+, he explained to the court that he had old and present day accusers and felt it necessary to first explain the old because it was those that give birth to present day accusers.
As we read how he addressed the accusers by humbling himself and openly admitting he felt he knew nothing, was not an orator and that he sought out other men to learn from them and found they had no wisdom to share. We can only imagine the accusers and court seething quietly at his audacity when he said:
“But far more dangerous are these [the original accusers of years ago], who began when you were children, and took possession of your minds with their falsehoods, telling of one Socrates, a wise man, who speculated about the heaven above, and searched into the earth beneath, and made the worse appear the better cause. … they are the circulators of this rumour, and their hearers are too apt to fancy that speculators of this sort do not believe in the gods. … their charges against me are of ancient date, and they made them in days when you were impressible–in childhood, or perhaps in youth–and the cause when heard went by default, for there was none to answer. …”
When I read the above quote I couldn’t help but think that not much has changed in over 2000 years. When someone without papers says something that is not in line with the common thought of the day they are labelled as oddballs, perhaps made front of, definitely ignored as not knowing what they are talking about.
If what you or I express in a conversation, a blog, etc., something that goes against the teachings, laws, regulations and rules of peoples/organizations of authority, sadly there is still a possibility that we can be brought before the courts. I think we are talking about freedom of speech here and I know we have that here in Canada, overtly, but are there those working underground who are working to remove such things from going viral on the internet? Absolutely.
How It Began
Socrates tells the judiciary that the accusations originally brought against him were that:
“Socrates is an evil-doer, and a curious person, who searches into things under the earth and in heaven, and he makes the worse appear the better cause; and he teaches the aforesaid doctrines to others.”
He reminds the court of how in the comedy of Aristophanes a man called Socrates was,
“going about saying that he can walk in the air, and talking a deal of nonsense concerning matters of which I do not pretend to know either much or little–not that I mean to say anything disparaging of anyone who is a student of natural philosophy. … simple truth is … I have nothing to do with these studies. …whether any of you have ever known me hold forth in few words or in many upon matters of this sort.”
Socrates reminds the court that there’s no information proving that he taught or took money for teaching. He tells them that he heard from a man who they knew, Chaerephon, who:
went to Delphi and asked the oracle there to tell him whether there was anyone wiser than Socrates, and the Pythian prophetess answered that “there was no man wiser.”
Because Chaerephon is now dead, Socrates tells the court that his brother who knows this truth is there in the court.
Socrates disagreed with the rumour when he heard it and went to the oracle to argue the point on his wisdom, denying that he was wise. The oracle stood by what had been said and so Socrates set out on a journey, addressing the following groups of people to find evidence to the contrary. He was unsuccessful, for he found that they were not wise. In essence he says they knew about their subject matters but couldn’t explain or answer any questions of depth. He concluded for himself he was wiser in that sense then any of these.
The first man he approached was a politician and says when they first started talking Socrates really felt he wasn’t a wise man, was not thought to be wise by others and only the man himself thought he was wise. When Socrates tried to explain to him this point of view he said the man hated him and that enmity was shared by others who were present.
The encounters with the others resulted in the same finding, that they were not wise except in their own eyes.
In conclusion Socrates addresses the court, seemingly upset because he could not prove the oracle wrong because:
“but the truth is, O men of Athens, that God only is wise; and in this oracle he means to say that the wisdom of men is little or nothing; he is not speaking of Socrates, he is only using my name as an illustration, as if he said, He, O men, is the wises, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing.”
The accusations followed him through the years, resulting in his being there before the courts. It seems that the youth of the day followed in the teachings, rumours and philosophies of the rich, famous and those in power, without second thought to what they were believing.
All Socrates ever sought was to know truth and understand; to garner wisdom and understanding from those in society who were purported to have such wisdom and understanding in their specific capacities and specialties.
When he spoke about things unseen, what was in the heavens or below the earth, he was mocked and made fun of, and eventually sued. He only sought the truth; this was the sole purpose of his life and his questioning of others; his questioning what existed as the rule of thumb by which society lived and governed itself.
His questioning, seeking and arguing discussions about truth lead to his ultimate conviction and death.
Accusations Then & Now
Well folks, here we are about 2,500 years later. The accusations are open to interpretation my perspective is things haven’t changed much since Socrates’ time insofar as how much weight there is on tradition and the accepted norm.
Refresher – this is the wording of the accusations:
- “introducing new gods and of corrupting the youth.”
- “Socrates is an evil-doer, and a curious person, who searches into things under the earth and in heaven, and he makes the worse appear the better cause; and he teaches the aforesaid doctrines to others.”
As a child growing up in a Catholic church I was told that only Catholics were going to heaven. I had the same teachings from other religious groups, maybe not as hard core, but certainly selective in how one practised their religion and if you didn’t follow the doctrine of the fellowship you were ousted!
These divisions are killing religions and these days I watch as the United States is being divided more and more. Just this week we had a bit of an episode with elections, here in Canada but it didn’t last long and we were fine the next day.
For several years now this has been something that Spirit has been impressing and bringing up with me in various ways. Sometimes out of the blue a book, a message, something I remember pops to mind and I know it’s time for another lesson or refresher on truth. I wrote on truth some time back and here’s the link. Actually, it appears I’ve written about truth a lot, because a search brought up about 20 plus blogs which have the word in it. The one I’ve linked to is called “Truth: Has It Lost Its Importance?” It was written on December 28, 2017.
Truth has been something that the Lord has been poking at me about; having me ask questions like why is it all liars are included in those who will be cast into the Lake of Fire.
I’ve said it before and I’ll share it again for those who don’t want to filter through the stuff previously written.
I answered that question, at least Spirit did, when I was reminded that YHWH is Truth and the enemy bears the label “Chief Liar.” I was convicted that whenever I speak a lie I am siding with the enemy of YHWH. And, if I needed more conviction, Spirit reminded me of Yeshua’s own words describing himself as the Truth.
Then there are the teachings on the various degrees of lies: little white lie, mortal sin (lie), half-truth! We can shade anything we want to suite our agenda, just like taking Scripture out of context to make our case for whatever it is we want to do that is clearly defined by Truth.
More than ever in all my years on this planet, these past few years have been streaming and screaming about lies and fake news (just another way of saying lies). We are being bombarded with lies from every angle. Just the other day I heard how Trump boasted at a Republican rally how he lied at the meeting with our Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. The tape of that boasting was leaked to the press.
I caught a glimpse at it and it wasn’t just the look on the President’s face as he laughed about it that got me. It was how everyone that surrounded him was laughing and joking along with him.
When someone speaks the truth these days, they get fired from their job. Whenever someone lies and creates a coverup, even though it is obvious they are lying, nothing seems to happen.
Truth will not lose this war, for Truth has already won this war when Truth crushed the head of the serpent and put all enmity beneath Truth’s feet. Truth requires strength to stand and when you and I speak truth will we be brought before our accusers because we speak truth?
It all reminds me of the trial of Yeshua brought before his accusers. Does truth matter? Is it ever okay to lie; perhaps to save the life of a person? Those are moralistic dilemmas that only the individual can answer. What would I do when brought before someone because I spoke the truth? Would I be not afraid for “I AM” with you and I will give you the words to speak?
Matthew 10:16-19 “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. :17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; :18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. :19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.”
We need to press into the Lord for His Wisdom, His Strength and His Protection as we go about the business of life on earth.
In all of this as I wrote, re-read and thought of what Spirit had me write, I think and pray in this moment for myself and for others who wish to embrace Truth:
“Dear Lord, please help me utilize the gift(s) of discernment according to your Will. More than ever, it is a gift that every man, woman and child ought to be leaning on. Practise makes perfect, and as the lies become more furtive, cloaked in honey, we so need to know that we know what is truth, and knowing truth act accordingly – knowing Father that as we walk with Truth you are our armour, our shield and our Word.
And Father, we need to press into you, consciously every moment as we go about the ordinary business of life.”