The Four Socratic Questions: Part 1a

According to the laws of most countries, slavery is illegal. But in spite of anti-slavery laws, at least 50,000 people are brought into the United States under forced bondage each year. In fact, it is estimated that 8,000,000 children alone live in slavery world-wide. What most don't realize is that slavery exists in the Western world and most people enter it voluntarily. Socrates was considered to be one of the wisest men of ancient Greece. This philosopher encouraged the young men of Athens to seek the improvement of themselves and to think of outside world. He understood that people must be able to answer four probing questions. Those who could not answer them well were in danger of becoming enslaved. In my first two blog entries, I will briefly discuss the first of these questions: "Who are you?"

One of the things I have noticed that most underachieving students share is that they have a low self-esteem. I remember asking one student how much he was worth. The young man lowered his head and replied, "I'm worthless." What he didn't know was that each of us are unique and noble creatures.

Value often depends on the eye of the beholder. Let's assume that a chemist wants to gather all of the chemicals needed to make a human body. That would cost him about $6.00 US. But the chemist cannot create a living human being. So let us explore the worth of a working person using U.S. government statistics. The average high school graduate will earn about $250,000 over the course of his working lifetime. On the other hand, a college graduate (and some graduates of vocational schools) will earn $1,000,000 over their working lifetime.

Being unique means being one of a kind. No one on earth has your fingerprint. Nor does anyone have your genetic code (DNA). And just as no two zebras have the same set of stripes, no one even has the same ear shape as you. We can say that the mold was broken after you were made. So you and I must be worth much more than what we earn.

Imagine that you have a very rare coin, stamp, or painting. Surely, you would want to insure that coin, stamp, or painting in the event it is lost or stolen. So off you go to the insurance broker. Now imagine that the insurance broker tells you, "I can't insure that. It is worth so much that no price can be put on it." Your treasure is 'priceless'. Since you and I are unique, each of us are 'priceless' creatures. So shouldn't we treat ourselves and our neighbors as we would want to be treated? Let us now return to the young man I introduced earlier.

Imagine that this boy was an expensive sports car. You bring it home from the auto dealer and proudly park it in your driveway. But what if that expensive car thought that it was a 'clunker'? One morning, you open the door and it falls off it's hinges. Another morning, the transmission falls out as you drive to work. It won't take you very long to think that the car is a 'lemon'. To the bank, however, that car is still worth the high price you paid for it.

A human being is not much different. It is important to understand that your brain is designed to give you the desires of your heart. If you think that you're a failure, your brain will put you in situations where you will fail and teach others to treat you as a failure. That was the rut this in which young man found himself. A rut is simply a grave with the ants kicked out. Little did he know that he was living in a form of bondage. Unless someone intervened in his situation, he stood a great chance of living a life of low income, poor relationships, drug abuse. If he couldn't read, the boy stood a high chance of ending up in prison. I invite you to read my second installment next week. In that post, I will discuss our inherent nobility.


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