There are some principles in life that I hold to my heart.  Taught to me from a dusty volume I pulled from a shelf I had to use an old oak ladder to get to.  The voice I heard speak to me from those pages lives within me to this day.

I spent much of my childhood in an old house called Glenleigh, sitting in the valley of two mountains near a village called Clogheen in Ireland. My adopted guardians, Edgar and Gypsy, were older (in their sixties) with a huge library of eclectic books from around the world.

The warmest place in the whole house was the kitchen, but the quietest was the library which looked out onto the 11 acre gardens that surrounded this beautiful oasis of peace. My happy safe space as a traumatized tween/teen. It was there I’d sit and devour book after book, discussing them at length with Edgar who was born in Argentina moved to South Africa where he mined and farmed, after serving in the merchant navy as commander during World War II.

Socrates became my favourite of the Greek Philosophers. The Fathers of Democracy.

HIs principles of:

* the unexamined life is not worth living – in other words, if we do not question, examine and hold ourselves accountable, it simply isn’t worth putting those trees to all that work.
* his methods of question and answer
* his underlying principle of ignorance, the assumption that I know nothing is the wisest of all… If we put aside what we think we know and instead ask from a point of complete ignorance we have a chance at getting at the truth of things.

Cemented for me my sanity. Given my childhood and later life, sanity is something that was hard fought for and frankly, without Socrates I wouldn’t be here.

Sit for a little while before posting anymore on the debate last night and compare if you will what occurred with this, one of the forefathers of democracy. Tell me honestly if this is what we have progressed to? Is this what 2500 years of human development has brought us to?

There is an anthropologist/philosopher who recently published a book that argued we are no further advanced than we were when we climbed out of the trees. Last night I’d say his thesis was confirmed.

Kate Gillie
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