Cephalus walks away
|Down and to the Left|
The mean population center of the USA is Plato, Mo - not some place in Ohio (that was back in 1860) and as the dots have drifted leftward and down the character of our republic has changed. Just a little more leftward and 120 miles south and we'll end up in Hope, Ar - maybe we'll be there by 2020.
Hope, he (Pindar) says, cherishes the soul of him who lives in justice and holiness and is the nurse of his age and the companion of his journey; --hope which is mightiest to sway the restless soul of man.
How admirable are his words! And the great blessing of riches, I do not say to every man, but to a good man, is, that he has had no occasion to deceive or to defraud others, either intentionally or unintentionally; and when he departs to the world below he is not in any apprehension about offerings due to the gods or debts which he owes to men. Now to this peace of mind the possession of wealth greatly contributes; and therefore I say, that, setting one thing against another, of the many advantages which wealth has to give, to a man of sense this is in my opinion the greatest.
Well said, Cephalus, I replied; but as concerning justice, what is it? --to speak the truth and to pay your debts --no more than this? And even to this are there not exceptions? Suppose that a friend when in his right mind has deposited arms with me and he asks for them when he is not in his right mind, ought I to give them back to him? No one would say that I ought or that I should be right in doing so, any more than they would say that I ought always to speak the truth to one who is in his condition.
You are quite right, he replied.
But then, I said, speaking the truth and paying your debts is not a correct definition of justice.
Quite correct, Socrates, if Simonides is to be believed, said Polemarchus interposing.
I fear, said Cephalus, that I must go now, for I have to look after the sacrifices, and I hand over the argument to Polemarchus and the company.
Is not Polemarchus your heir? I said.
To be sure, he answered, and went away laughing to the sacrifices.
That's from Book 1 of Plato's Republic and pretty much sums up the American experience. Cephalus (Trump) defines justice as telling the truth and paying debts and Socrates, in his obnoxious manner, comes up with some whimsical "what if" to undercut the simple (and functional) truth upon which Cephalus and the entire social order functions. What follows (books 2-10) is a puffy pink castle in the sky drawn out by the destitute philosopher king who's got a better idea of how things should be, but Cephalus is already gone, laughing as he exits stage right, off to more meaningful pursuits. "You are quite right Socrates, you are quite right, hahaha, what's to be done about the madman with a knife?" (LOL) This wealthy and experienced Athenian elder is not going to waste his day answering the ugly little philosophers nagging questions or trying to discern the meaning of snarky riddles set down as traps to catch some pray. Leave it to the young men to waist their time and passion on trivial arguments with the old teacher - I'm going to go eat some roasted lamb and listen to a little music.
And so we have a republic of, for and by the people centered in Plato which is closer to Hope than it is to Cleveland but that's where 60 Minutes went to get the pulse of this years Viagra voter:
A job at the mill was a birthright, in Lorain, Ohio, for 121 years. In 1895, the spark of the American century ignited the blast furnace. And the plant, two miles long, forged the rails, the drilling pipe, the weapons and the wonders of the 20th century.
Carlos Hernandez: Oh, my it was wonderful, we were making steel. We were making money.
Making steel was all Carlos Hernandez knew for 28 years. But seven months ago he, and 542 others, punched the clock for the last time as cheap Chinese steel helped silence the furnace in a new century that he fears may not be America’s.
Carlos Hernandez: It was just a funeral procession coming out to the gate knowing that you’re never was coming back. You know, we sacrificed time with our families to try to make this company succeed, you know. And, this is what it’s come to. Just a ghost town. Just a rusted, empty, meaningless place right now.
Now watch it with the sound off. Watch the body language and try to imagine these people engaging Socrates in "dialog" to define a wise social and political order. Scott Pelley could never conduct an interview like this:
Pelley: What I mean may be put into the form of a question: Are dogs divided into hes and shes, or do they both share equally in hunting and in keeping watch and in the other duties of dogs? or do we entrust to the males the entire and exclusive care of the flocks, while we leave the females at home, under the idea that the bearing and suckling their puppies is labour enough for them?
Voter: No, they share alike; the only difference between them is that the males are stronger and the females weaker.
Pelley: But can you use different animals for the same purpose, unless they are bred and fed in the same way?
Voter: You cannot.
Pelley: Then, if women are to have the same duties as men, they must have the same nurture and education?
Pelley:The education which was assigned to the men was music and gymnastic.
Pelley: Then women must be taught music and gymnastic and also the art of war, which they must practise like the men?
Voter: That is the inference, I suppose.
Pelley: I should rather expect that several of our proposals, if they are carried out, being unusual, may appear ridiculous.
Voter: No doubt of it.
Pelley: Yes, and the most ridiculous thing of all will be the sight of women naked in the palaestra, exercising with the men, especially when they are no longer young; they certainly will not be a vision of beauty, any more than the enthusiastic old men who in spite of wrinkles and ugliness continue to frequent the gymnasia.
Voter: Yes, indeed: according to present notions the proposal would be thought ridiculous.
Yes, ridiculous, and so we look to Cephalus and watch him laughing, telling amorous stories, patting people on back, giving the thumbs up as he goes about his business and lives life to the fullest. Let's join him at the sacrifices and Make America Great Again.