Today, Socrates is thought of as one of the world’s great philosophers, but to the leaders of Greece he was annoying and dangerous.
Claiming, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” he roamed the public places of Athens asking relentless questions that challenged assumptions and beliefs and demanded that people think about social justice and personal worthiness. In the end, he was sentenced to death for his subversive ideas. He refused an opportunity to escape since it would violate his principles.
“My friend,” he reportedly asked people, “are you not embarrassed by caring so much for money, fame, and reputation and not thinking of wisdom and truth and how to make your character as good as possible?” Socrates wasn’t just trying to make people feel bad, he was encouraging them to be better.
You see, Socrates was an optimist about human nature. He believed wickedness is the result of ignorance, and those with true knowledge will act rightly. His question about priorities is relevant today, yet it takes courage and integrity to examine our motivations and goals and to measure our attitudes and conduct in relation to our principles.
Are you trying to make your character as good as possible?
Are you as honest as you should be?
Do you treat everyone with respect, even those you don’t like?
Do accept responsibility for your choices?
Are you fair?
Are you doing what you can charitably, and are you doing your share as a good citizen?
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
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