I was eighteen years old when I took my first university philosophy course. I was no academic but there were a few ideas that triggered my brain and have stayed with me for thirty plus years. My favourite was the Socratic credo about wisdom. If any of you are philosophy majors, forgive my hackish interpretation. The way I understood it is that someone told Socrates that he was likely the wisest man in Greece. He thought, how could this be? I know nothing. And then he made a point of talking to the leaders in each industry, the most successful in every endeavor. Carpenters, politicians, shipbuilders, writers. Everyone. And almost to a person, they each expounded on why they were successful at what they did. Why they were the best. Every one of them. It was then that Socrates had the revelation that perhaps he was the wisest one in Greece. Not because he knew more than others but because he was the only one who knew he knew nothing.
Like so many, the president of the United States infuriates me. I really don’t think people understand that the damage he has done in four months will take generations to reverse. The Republican party will kill more Americans in the next five years than wars or terrorism have in the last fifty. But that’s what happens when you vote. Or don’t vote.
But I don’t know how the world works. I’m just a middle aged white guy in Canada, staring at a computer screen, hoping that people will come to their senses. I don’t understand banking, international diplomacy, the military industrial complex, Israel and the rest of the middle east. I might think I do but I don’t really.
I don’t know if Socrates felt helpless not knowing anything. It seemed to empower him. And then they killed him. But he still provided us with a valuable lesson. Just when you think you might know something, it’s likely you’ll be proven wrong in short order.