Plato was wrong!
Now, be kind.
Here’s something kind of fun for me to say: it turns out that Plato was wrong. That’s news, right? That’s a headline! Plato, the big name in Greek philosophy, the classic western scholar, was incorrect!
OK, why am I saying this?
Plato had this basic idea that when people are exposed to the truth, they will cast away their illusions. (Here’s my awesome retelling of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.) He believed that when humans observe what is right, they let go of things that are bad for them. He taught that when we discern what is real, we will move in the direction of truth.
Well, Plato was wrong.
You know this. You know people who do the wrong things all the time. Even when they’re fully aware they should be doing the right thing, they continue engaging in bad behavior.
There’s a chance you, too, might sometimes be prone to not doing exactly what you should be doing. Right? We’ve all experienced this.
We say “yes” to the person we wanted to say “no” to. (Or we say “no” to the person we wanted to say “yes” to.) We eat things we know aren’t healthy. We do things to ourselves that we know are injurious. We do the opposite of what Plato was talking about. (This might suggest we’re all a little self-destructive – and maybe even insane, too.)
Similarly to Plato, economists used to think people always did what was best for their bottom line. But then social economists came along and said, no, that’s not true – people don’t always do what’s monetarily in their best interests!
Worse than the fact that we do these harmful things to ourselves – and here’s my point this week – we must also come to grips with the realization that other people in our lives do bad things to themselves as well.
When we observe a person doing something wrong, we must accept, “That’s just how people are.”
When you witness a person doing something you clearly know they shouldn’t be doing, don’t get frustrated about it – just accept that they’re another human being proving Plato wrong.
The trick is for us to have compassion for others, and compassion for ourselves. We might get really frustrated when we see someone harming him-or-herself, especially if we love that person.
But we need to accept that this irrational quirk is simply human behavior. We must open our hearts and say, “That’s how we’re all flawed.”
So, Plato was wrong. People don’t necessarily do the right thing.
Spiritual-religious advice: Pardon others for not doing what (you know) they ought to be doing.
(Oh, and good luck with this one. It’s far easier to preach and understand than to practice.)
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