Plato – Some Thoughtful Quotes

The Symposium:

“And the true order of going, or being led by another, to the things of love, is to begin from the beauties of earth and mount upwards for the sake of that other beauty, using these steps only, and from one going on to two, and from two to all fair forms to fair practices, and from fair practices to fair notions, until from fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute beauty, and at last knows what the essence of beauty is.”

The Republic – Book V:

“Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils – no, nor the human race, as I believe – and then only will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the light of day.”

The Death of Socrates – Inspiration at all sides

The death of Socrates remains, to me, something inspiring at many sides. It’s inspiring for Manhood, it’s inspiring for contentment, it’s inspiring for holding on principles, it’s inspiring for appreciation of knowledge, it’s inspiring for discipleship (faithful attachment of students to their teacher), it’s inspiring for teachership (fruitful giving of teacher to students), it’s inspiring for human bonds, it’s inspiring for tolerance, for faith, for being solidly united by a cause….etc. I can really enumerate many many inspirations that the death of Socrates can inject in a conscious soul. It’s not a mere historical incident. However, the death of Socrates is still a recurrent remark of still political oppression, fear of intellectuals and the power of thought more than the power of weapons. Though happened some 300 hunderd years before Christ, we can still see in it how rulers were still at fear and fight to intellectual leaders; and how the power of thought was at the worth of 1000 bullet.

After the revolution in Athens and the democratic party won, Socrates’ fate was destined. He was the intellectual leader of the revolting party. He was the master of thought to youth. He was the one who did not fear any oppression and never hesitated to spread truthful knowledge at any cost. An intellectual like Socrates was definitely a source of threat. Not only did his thoughts threatened politics, but it did threaten religious dogmas. For Socrates condemned having Gods; he was a believer that there is only one God and condemned the sacrifices to temples and the Gods. And that was one of the main reasons, condemning the gods, that led him to death. His thoughts and teachings, Socrates, the father of Philosophy, are what gave him death and immortality.

At the trial, which details I will not discuss here, Socrates attempted to “defend” his position rather than trying to prove himself innocent. He refused to plea for the crowd’s mercy. They had the power to grant him innocence. But how he could he claim for their mercy while he is the one who long condemned them for their poor thoughts and wrong doings. Accordingly, he disdained from asking for their mercy. The judges asked him to choose his penalty and in response he proposed to pay a poor fine. Socrates has lost the support of crowd due to his unapologetic tone, he didn’t talk pathetically or weakly. He was standing in with a high head, defended his thoughts and positions, and did not lenient his tone of voice to plea for a mercy. The crowd voted for his death…which he did not attempt to oppose. And it was it.

At the prison, his pupils came to him and attempted to ask him to escape. For they have bribed guards and prison personnel to allow him an easy escape. However, Socrates has refused to escape on principle. They tried to convince him, but he interrupted and said “Be of good cheer…and say that you are burying my body only.”

The details of his execution and death were told to us by his pupil Plato, who did not attend the trial as he was out of town but was there at his execution. It could not be beautifully described to us the way Plato did. It was described by Plato in his book Apology and Plato’s enumeration of the scene is considered one of the most beautiful passages in the world’s literature. For this reason, I will quote Plato’s description in his own words to touch on how poetic he was in transferring the scene to us:

Plato telling us the story, while in prison with Socrates among pupils waiting for his execution by drinking poison, in one of his great passage of literature that inspired writers till now. I ask you while reading Plato’s enumeration to live that moment as if you were there watching. Live in Plato’s poetic words:

He rose and went into the bath-chamber with Crito, who bade us wait; and we waited, talking and thinkin of… the greatness of our sorrow; he was like a father of whom we were being bereaved, and we were about to pass the rest of our lives as orphans… Now the hour of sunser was near, for a good deal of time had passed while he was within. When he came out, he sat down with us again, … but not much was said. Soon the jailer … entered and stood by him, saying: “To you, Socrates, whom I know to be the noblest and gentlest and best of all who ever came to this place, I will not impute the angry feelings of other men, who rage and swear at me when … I bid them drink the poison – indeed I am sure that you will not be angry with me.” The [the jailer himself] bursting into tears he turned away and went out.

Socrates looked at him and said “I return your good wishes and will do as you say.” Then turning to us [the pupils], he said “How charming the man is; since I have been in prison he has always been coming to see me … and now see how generously he sorrows for me. But we must do as he says, Crito [one of his pupils there he asked]; let the cup [of poison] to be brought, if the poison is prepared; if not, let the attendant prepare some.”

“Yet”, said Crito, “the sun is still upon the hill tops…do not hasten then, there is still time.” (the time of execution was scheduled at sunset).

Socrates said: “Yes, Crito, and they of whom you speak are right… but I am right in not doing thus, for I do not think that I should gain anything by drinking the poison a little later; I should be sparing and saving a life which is already gone; I could onlt laugh at myself for this. Please then to do as I say, and not to refuse me.”

Crito, when he heard this, made a sign to the servant; and the servent went in… then returned with the jailer carrying the cup of poison.

Socrates said: “You, my good friend, who are experienced in these matters, shall you give me directions how I am to proceed.”

The man answered: “You have only to walk about until your legs are heavy, and then to lie down, and the poison will act.” At the same time he handed the cup to Socrates, who in the easiest and gentlest manner, without the least fear or change of color or feature, looking at the jailer with all his eyes, as his manner was, took the cup and said: “What do you say about making a liberation out of this cup to any god? May I, or not?” The jailer answered: “We only prepare, Socrates, just so much as we deem enough.”

Then holding the cup to his lips, quite readily and cheerfully he drunk the poison…

And by then…most of us had been able to control our sorrow, but now when we saw him drinking, and saw too that he had finished all of it, we could no longer forbear…and inspite of myself, my own tears were flowing fast; I covered my face and wept over myself. I was not weeping over him, but at the thought of having lost such a companion. Nor was I the first…Crito, when he found himself unable to restrain his tears, had got up and moved away, and I followed… At  that moment, Apollodorus (another pupil), who had been weeping all the time, broke into a loud cry…which made us all cry loud.

Socrates alone retained his calmness: “What is this strange outcry?” he said. “I sent away the women mainly in order that not to happen, for I have heard that a man should die in peace. Be quiet, then, and have patience.”

When we heard that, we were ashamed…and restrained our tears. He started to walk about until his legs began to fail, and then he lay on his back, according to the directions. The man who gave him the poisin now and then looked at his feet and legs; and after a while he pressed his foot hard and asked him if he could feel; and he said “No”. Socrates felt his legs himself and said “When the poison reaches the heart, that will be the end.”

He was beginng to grow cold and he had covered himself to the face and lay down covered…

Then he uncovered his face and said: “Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius. Will you remember to pay the debt for me, for debts shall be paid back”

Crito responded softly to his teacher “Is there anything else?”

And here came no answer to this question.

Such was the end of our friend, whom I may truly call the wisest, the justest, and best of all the men whom I have ever known.

Socrates died at the age of 70 in 399 BC as an exemplary of courage, faith, bravery, and wisdom.

Where are we now from finding a teacher like Socrates….

Israel-Palestine Struggle – From Economical Perspective

Check out this interesting article, by Martin Cohen, discussing Isreal-Palestine struggle; however, from an angle other than politics, from the economical perspective.

http://www.nytexaminer.com/2012/11/how-europe-can-untie-the-palestine-israel-knot/

In this article, Martin is proposing that the struggle could be easily resolved by looking at the economical dimension as a pressure mean on Israel to cease violent practices against Palestenians.

While I am still convinced that the Israel-Palestine struggle is still persistent over two generations of politicians not due to lack of solutions, but due to lack of intention to resolve the struggle in the first place.

The World is standing still in every peak of violence permitted there with governments setting up a comic show; where everybody disagrees and proposes solutions that will never get implemented; and they know they won’t. In this show, the world governments become like a Belly Dancer; she shakes her body while everybody is watching her almost naked body, but no one goes ahead and touch it.

World governments then have their motivation to play this comic show…But we as individuals have no reason to fool ourselves by believing that world governments are really seeking a resolution to this.

The 25th of January, 2011 – The Egyptian Youths’ Revolution

Thirty years of silence was not a sign of satisfaction to the majority of Egyptians. It was the suppression to the freedom of expression through sturdy political ruins that imprisoned this majority, along their hopes and ambitions, into a lifetime dungeon. These decades were the blunt administration that transformed Egypt into a Police State. A Police State which existence made necessary as a tool for the regime to keep the people silent in front of corruption and political chaos through exercising collective intimidation and sowing fear.

 

When Silence Is Misunderstood As Weakness, When a nation suppressed by its leader is misunderstood as backward

Sometimes, the endurance of suppression without remarkable opposition for a long time makes the suppressor feels like he is not suppressing; sometimes when one keeps doing mistakes for a long time and nobody says anything about them, one may think he is not doing mistakes. That’s when one’s conscience becomes his own betrayer instead of being the beacon. And when suppression and mistakes are recognized some day, the suppressor looks back at all the suppression he made and finds silence, he mistakenly thinks that silence will always be the response to his suppression. Suppression will be always accepted; or will be always the mean to kneel everything to this one’s interests. All of this in itself, is the single mistake the suppressor made to himself; for the first time not to the people. And when this mistake is done with the Egyptians, this becomes a doubled mistake! “Egyptians are the best of all soldiers” that’s how the Prophet Mohamed called them. We proved this over the history and will continue to prove it!

On the global level, the people’s reputation is an element massively dependent on the leader of that nation. This is when that nation is long driven by a one man rule. Drastically enough, it gives the impression to the whole world that this nation is backward, dumb, invaluable, and like a herd of animals driven by a dictator; a piece of property. They would say that if a nation accepts that suppressing dictatorship to lead it that way; then, for sure they are cheap invaluable piece of property. This is the second mistake held about that nation; this time from the whole world. Not because your nation has the privilege of putting their voices forward it means that others are inferior to yours. You were mistaken by thinking that this is the very nature of this nation; because this nation will not remain silent forever.

Until it came the time for this suppressor to know that the silence was a long endurance, but not a weakness. A silence because of sowing fears; and fears may put a shadow on one’s real self. A long ‘no-change’ that makes ‘change’ itself a fearful sought. Until the day came, we stood in front of fear; in thousands and millions not shaken. The time that this suppressor has discovered that he missed the whole point of it: that his nation has now gotten a generation of educated youth; born from the uterus of strength and historical culture. He has discovered that lately because so long he has dismissed.

Not only we did teach that suppressor his mistake, but also we ‘reminded’ the whole world who we are. We are not a herd of animals; we are a powerful nation delayed by the rulings of people who never knew how to utilize the powerfulness of this nation. This resourceful nation with all it got from personal powers and merits just needed the right person and it would be the best of all nations. Judging this nation for the delays it had due to the ruling of suppressors is because others would like to judge this nation as a herd; neglecting to acknowledge their values. To dismiss it from humanity calculations. The suppressors were known, the rotten governmental systems were stinking that everybody could smell; why those eager for humanity did not move? No much blame should be placed as they should not move until the nation itself moves on its own. But when the nation moves, it does not need others to move now; stay where you are we do not need you now as we moved.

To our next leaders, know thy nation.

To other nations, do not let the contemporary and historical recessions blind you from the essence of that nation.

To whom who chooses to sink in his blindness and disregard this powerful nation, stay in your darkness until that nation surprises you all.

To whom who would try to hinder us and supress our progress, you will be committing the same mistake the suppressor has made that, at the end, this nation still could extinguish.

To the Egyptians, you had a role of pride and strength throughout the history; and this moment you have made is just a start for another history; for the stamina and strengths you got, you are “the best of all soldiers”.