Friday, April 30, 2021

Hobbes Vs Plato .. Fear vs Faith in Politics and Life

The last year has really made an interesting impact on a centuries long debate.  Over my college years, I have taken some interesting courses that helped me to understand many historical and current issues BEHIND the stories that you see, today.  One of those courses was a class called Development of Political Thought - Ancient and Modern that was a foundational course in the political science degree (I took it as an elective).. a degree that is used for lawyers, politicians, reporters and campaign workers.  So, they know these figures I will talk about.  The purpose of the course was to show the spectrum of ideas that existed out there and their conflict among one another.

One of the earliest political figures in western political thought is Socrates and Plato.  Plato was a student of Socrates, who wrote nothing.  In fact, if it wasn't for Plato, we wouldn't know he existed.  Plato's words are actually a description of the concepts of Socrates.  Socrates believed in the reality of ideas.  He believed that concepts were more true than thy physical world, and his followers believed in the purity of those ideas.  Like Christ that would follow his years, they taught that the physical reality around them were a confused distraction of the ideas to be rejected.  His perspective was that ALL people were basically good, if they were released from their distractions and had faith in mankind.  However, to have a successful government he believed the leaders should be educated in his thoughts and rule from his perspective of humanity for their benefit.

As a contrast, Thomas Hobbes that would come many many years after distrusted mankind.  He believed that all men are driven by their desire for goods and when they competed over the same goods, they became enemies and would fight over them.  He believed that mankind's basest natures would win out over their ethics and that police was necessary to maintain order.

I could go into Machiavelli to really lay out the politics that we see in the world, today, but I'll stop there to make a point.  This contrast has been one of the foundations for western political thinking for centuries... one side pushing the faith in mankind and the other the need for state control and military response.  Then.... the last year happened.  Suddenly, the side typically known for saying we should trust people to make their own CHOICE on how to live their lives and order their speech, sexual lives, bodies, and more was out there saying it was absolutely ESSENTIAL that all of those things must be controlled.... why?  It was because... as they said... people couldn't be TRUSTED to make their choices and that given the opportunity they would choose to harm everyone else for themselves.  Yes.... the party of Plato started evangelizing Hobbes, leaving their followers to ask... do we believe in freedom or control today... every time a news story broke.  Yet... they campaigned.. people with money can't be trusted with their money because everyone that had money was greedy, everyone with guns were violent, everyone on their own educated their children incorrectly, and freedom led to violence.... leading to their government literally surrounding itself with their troops, close down schools and businesses, banning words and people from speaking online, and tell everyone what they must wear when walking on their own.  Society devolved from freedom vs state to WHICH form of government control would you choose.... all because they lost faith in the purity of the ideas and will of man over their own lives.

While this was happening in politics, it bled over into personal lives, as well.  People that used to crowd in dance halls all drinking from the same bottles and making VERY wild sexual choices that they said were within their rights became people living apart from each other in their own houses, hiding behind masks, and refusing to shake HANDS.  Of course attraction and dating and marriage all decreased and divorces rose, because no one was looking at their neighbor out of interest and desiring to integrate but out of fear and distrust.

So, all that to say this on this blog related to moving forward to happiness.  If we are to regain our happiness, we must be able to throw off the distrust and fear of risk that has been fed to us for a year.  Yes, there is the potential for pain, but we will hurt ourselves more by the defense and will deprive us of the potential for NEW experiences and gained joys that will be the foundation for greater happiness to come.

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