This past weekend was fun. I took my 11-year-old daughter Olivia skating at the Midcoast Recreational Center in Rockport which is less than thirty minutes from the house in Nobleboro.

This is the third season I have been taking her there and she is making significant progress each year. We made a minor investment in skates for her at Christmas last year which also made a difference in her level of skill as well as helped her feel better about the whole activity.

I try to take every opportunity to spend time with my daughter for I know that she is constantly moving away from me and her mother and towards her friends as is the way of nature. The baby birds must eventually leave the nest. I relish each moment I have with my baby bird.

The Apology

The other day I was looking through my meager library here in my Biddeford apartment ”“ most of it is at my house up the coast ”“ and came across Plato’s Republic. This was his life’s work and considered by most scholars as his greatest.

It has been quite some time, years, perhaps even decades since I have read any of Plato’s work. I started reading it in my mid-twenties and so fell in love with the subject matter and style of writing that I ended up going to college to study philosophy in my early thirties.

I have on occasion written about philosophy in general and Plato in particular in my column over the past several years and many of my readers who were not familiar with the work found it interesting, even if they were not moved to formally study it themselves. So, I thought perhaps some of you would appreciate a column once in awhile in a similar vein.

If I may, let me share a few tidbits of information to offer some relevant background. First of all, philosophy translated from the ancient Greek means “The love of wisdom.” And those who study it are essentially in pursuit of it (wisdom). For those of you not familiar with Plato, he lived in ancient Athens, born around 428BC. You may have heard of Socrates, who was Plato’s teacher. But everything we know about Socrates comes from Plato, because Socrates never wrote anything.

One of Plato’s early stories is called The Apology. This is a true story where Socrates was on trial for teachings against the Gods. In fact, he was questioning what others interpretations were about the Gods, what they wanted, what they looked like, how they behaved.

Humans have faced these same challenges ever since. He was challenging some fellow Athenians not the Gods. But those Athenian citizens were rich and powerful and Socrates was poor. He devoted his life to the pursuit of wisdom and teaching rather than wealth. The powerful used religion to manipulate the masses and further empower themselves. So they created these allegations, these charges, not to execute Socrates or even imprison him. They simply wanted him to recant, to discredit himself so they could save face and go on with business as usual.

But when it came time for Socrates to speak at his trail, rather than recanting he gave a speech that proved he was wise and they were wicked and he did so respectfully, eloquently, without using foul language, without screaming or yelling. He did so simply by using his powers of reason. The very same reason that he said we all possess and have an obligation to use to pursue the truth, to find the truth and live it to the very best of our ability, despite our imperfections.

Socrates was convicted, sentenced to death and executed by forcing him to drink poison Hemlock. This book is an easy and fascinating read and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the pursuit of wisdom and the study of morality.

Many questions arise from the reading of The Apology. What will we learn from Socrates’ experience? What would we do differently today or try to change in ourselves, or our society as a result of what we have learned? Would we have the courage that Socrates showed if we were faced with similar circumstances? If you are so inclined, please respond in a letter to the editor with your thoughts on the matter, particularly if you read the story.

Thanks for reading, and have a wicked cool week!

— Bruce M. Hardina is the publisher of the Journal Tribune, a singer-songwriter, a philosopher, a student of life and the human experience, a columnist, an entrepreneur and a family man. To comment on his musings, email [email protected] or mail a note to Journal Tribune, Attn: Bruce Hardina, 457 Alfred St., Biddeford, ME 04005.