Sunday, February 1, 2009

Socrates

If you have ever taken a philosophy class or seen the movie Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, you've probably heard of Socrates. He is remembered as an influential Greek philosopher, but during his life he was not admired like he is today. That's because ol' Socrates was a royal pain in everyone's ass.

Socrates questioned everyone and everything. He started philosophic talks or "Socratic dialogues" with anyone who crossed his path. The dialogues were of a very serious nature, such that the townspeople people would pity those who had engaged Socrates in discussion. The man loved to expose ignorance in the name of wisdom and virtue. He made the weaker argument appear to be stronger and would never answer questions directly. He even went so far as to label himself the "Gadfly of Athens."

A gadfly is a pest which bites the hides of other, larger animals when they are moving too slowly. Like a gadfly, Socrates often found himself being swatted at (figuratively) by those he spoke with, especially civic leaders.

Near the end of his life he was put on trial for corrupting the youth of Athens, for believing in deities (Gods) not approved by the state, and for making the weaker argument appear to be stronger. Because he spoke his mind so freely and frequently, Socrates was put to death by hemlock. He even had the audacity to tell the citizens of Athens that his death would hurt them more than it would hurt him!

Socrates was a pest in every sense of the word, and you can bet the Athenians were glad to be rid of him. For all of his wit and wisdom, he did not have the common sense to just shut up once in a while.

In the past I have been very hesitant to share my views on "hot" issues like politics, economics, government, and society. I do have opinions about what's going on in the world, but I felt it wasn't polite to tell them to anyone and everyone I met. Call it common sense.

Seriously, does anyone really care what I think about every little thing under the sun? I doubt it. What benefit would there be to expanding on every thought and opinion like old Socrates anyway? All it ever got him was an early grave and a few paragraphs in my philosophy textbook.

Lately though, I have been finding more and more things to gripe about. So much in fact that I could probably complain about something every day for a year. Hey, sounds like a great idea for a blog! Better yet, I can post my thoughts anonymously to avoid becoming a persona non grata in my own social circle. In this way, I can "dish it out" without taking any criticism from others.

The point of the Modern Gadfly is not to stir up controversies for publicity's sake (like radio shock jock Howard Stern). I also do not intend to beat any dead horses such as airline food, which has been thouroughly trampled by the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Woody Allen, Andy Rooney, Dave Barry, and so many others.

Like Socrates, I have taken on the role of a gadfly (only in modern times). I shall sting with words those who move too slowly or in the wrong direction. I shall say the things I have always wanted to say without fear of repercussions. With my sword of knowledge and the light of truth, I shall defend the world from the darkness of ignorance.

With that said, I'd like to welcome you to the site. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you again soon!

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