You are still and will always be my friend. That settled, I want to add something to my previous letter, an essay which happens to be done already for my writing pursuits. It deals with what is happening in America and how it can be changed.
Picture for a moment a slender tree standing against the wind as it tries to grow up right It, It, that tree, is the human being, with nascent powers for truth, good, and reason. But the wind is preventing it from developing as it should. You will find that tree in the classic period and thought of men like Aristotle, Socrates, Pericles**, to mention a few.
Thomas Jefferson, in framing the Constitution, kept asking John Adams time and time again: “Have you read Thucydides?” In History of the Peloponsesian War, Thucydides has a speech by Pericles in which Pericles defines Freedom, Democracy, and Man, the kind our Founding Fathers wanted to have. Ben Franklin used to pull the shades down in his study and read the Greeks. Here are some excerpts from Pericles’ speech.
“We cultivate refinement without extravagance and knowledge without effeminacy.”
“Our Constitution favors the many. That is why it is called a Democracy.”
“We are tough because we choose to be tough. But we are also gentle.”
I am aware of what the news media are saying. But I think, in my own small way, I can see and admire the slender tree standing against the fury of the wind. It is our nature as humans. What we must do is to salvage that nature by properly educating the young to think, to enhance that nascent being.
With Sophism as prevalent as it happens to be at present, it becomes a Herculean task to see what is true and what is false. Sophism, as I mentioned before, is the philosophy that Truth is a matter of opinion and can be shaped through rhetoric. A standard is needed to compare against. And there is one. Socrates called it, “know thyself.” It should be the education which the young get in their formative years.
Nature has the power over us and directs us. But we can see also the beauty which our instinctive powers create. It is the strength that we have against the wind of deceit and corruption.
Letter to a friend
Lansing, Feb. 21, 2013
** Pericles: Athenian Statesman in 5th century BC