In the Introduction of Plato’s The Trial & Death of Socrates, G.M.A Grube (who translated the work) writes: A celebrated paradox from Socrates stated that virtue is knowledge. He believed that, when men do wrong, it is only because they do not know any better. Many who argued against his theory believed Socrates ignored Man’s will. This, in part, is a misconception.
According to Socrates, the ultimate aim or goal of Man is not to choose the right but to become the sort of person who cannot choose the wrong and who no longer has any choice in the matter. Socrates called this “God-like.” Man must love the right because it is right; he cannot do otherwise and no longer has any choice at all. Ergo, he would no longer be the cause of evil.
Most people today would fall well short of Socrates’ high ethical/moral standards. In 21st century business and society, we have neatly packaged words like dignity, character, honesty and integrity into a much larger word…compromise.
We choose to compromise because it is a well-traveled road where we see many familiar faces and feel quite comfortable on it. We have also placed the goal of winning at the very top of everything we do-from our children’s sporting events to our work to life itself. Today, we compromise to win.
By traveling this road, we can gauge the competition, plan accordingly and pull out all the stops to win the race (day after day after day). Unfortunately, there is almost no room on the road for high ethical and moral standards. Too much baggage and they don’t allow for the compromises necessary in order to win. They become casualties.
What would happen if we listened to Robert Frost instead?
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
Or, Matthew 7:13-14
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.
These are the challenges faced by so many of us today. We sacrifice our moral standards for material wants; our ethics for brass rings; and our vacations and family time for promotions. And yet, running parallel to all of this is a better way to live.
The ultimate goal for each and every one of us is to challenge ourselves to find it. There is no better time to re-evaluate our priorities than right now. Get off the well-traveled road and blaze our own paths. Somewhere along the way, we’ll find the ethical and moral standards that Socrates spoke of…far away from the material trappings we coveted just a short time ago.