Posted March 21, 2014
by Jerry Alatalo
“A man must take with him into the world below an adamantine faith in truth and right, that there too he may be undazzled by the desire of wealth or the other allurements of evil, lest coming upon tyrannies and similar villainies, he should do irremediable wrongs to others and suffer yet worse himself; but let him know how to choose the mean and avoid extremes on either side, as far as possible, not only in this life but in all that which is to come. For this is the way to happiness.”
– Plato (428-348 B.C.)
Plato spoke to generations to come some 24 centuries ago on happiness, and on how happiness is created by an adamantine (unyielding) faith in truth and right. In Plato’s quote some value may be found by examining his use of the words “into the world below”, which suggests the concept that all human beings descend from a place above. Plato’s configuration of words and ideas raise a number of questions about his philosophy of life, primarily his conveyance of the soul coming down to live on Earth, choices the incarnated human makes during his or her lifetime, and an ascent back to “above”.
Plato’s quote puts forth the consequences of man’s choice to allow himself to become “dazzled” by the desire for wealth and similar villainies, which results in men doing things which cannot be remedied or corrected or repaired. Here one observes a connection between what Plato said so long ago to events of violence and war that have occurred since he lived. Because of men’s choice to allow themselves to become “dazzled” by the desire of wealth, those desires have led men to kill their fellow human beings to bring to themselves the wealth they want.
Another word to describe this human characteristic of desire for wealth reads greed. History abounds with examples ranging from small to large of men doing irreparable harm to their fellow brothers and sisters on Earth, and none can refute the fact that in the majority of wars the most significant catalyst was greed. Wars over natural resources, land, control of commercial/business activity, and any of a variety of routes to wealth accumulation gives mankind incontrovertible historical evidence that Plato knew what he was talking about.
Those who through history have made the choice to harm their fellow-man to gain wealth or the “other allurements of evil”, according to Plato, then suffer even more than those they harmed. Why do those who knowingly inflict harm on others suffer more? Because there are laws that are universal, or higher than man-made laws – the highest law.
“Good is all that serves life, evil is all that serves death. Good is reverence for life… and all that enhances life. Evil is all that stifles life, narrows it down, cuts it to pieces.”
– Erich Fromm (1900-1980)
So, every human is challenged with the constant presence of choice between good and evil; between intentionally harming others for villainous reasons – harming oneself more harshly in the process – and doing no harm, made possible by an unyielding faith in truth and right, thereby experiencing happiness.
“It is sad that man is not intelligent enough to solve problems without killing… The present world crisis can be solved only by a general human revolution against outdated concepts… Man is not a blood-thirsty animal, and war is only due to the greed and lust for power of relatively small groups, the conspiracy of the few against the many.”
– Albert Szent-Gyorgi (1893-1986)
So, peace on Earth is possible. All that is needed to create peace on Earth is humanity “be undazzled by the desire of wealth or the other allurements of evil”. Then, “not only in this life but in all that which is to come”, the Earth along with all men, women, and children who have come down to it, live their lives, and then ascend, shall experience true happiness.
True happiness on Earth describes in another but equal way: “on Earth as it is in heaven”. In the lines of David Byrne’s composition “Heaven” are the words “where nothing ever happens”. He is alluding to a condition where harm, violence, and war are non-existent everywhere…
Where true world peace has become real.
Please enjoy vocalist Simply Red’s interpretation of David Byrne’s “Heaven”.
(Thank you to Alexandre Hoertel Negri at YouTube)