Humanity continues to evolve and improve upon its current state. For years, the influence of religion helped shape society’s beliefs and morals. Philosophers like Plato, Socrates, Lao Tzu, and Confucius attempted to improve society and solve the morality issue using different methods and philosophies they created.
Both Confucius and Socrates were influential philosophers of their time. Confucius remarked, “He who learns but does not think is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger,” while Socrates stated, “An unexamined life is not worth living by any human.” These two quotes express the significance of thinking critically about the world and being aware of one’s actions. Someone who is unaware of their natural tendency to sin and fails to reflect on it continues to make bad decisions for the rest of their life. Self-awareness is how a person grows and improves. To me, a strengthened society lies in serving others. Confucius believed that self-awareness, public works, and social interaction were some of the most important practices to build up a community.
Today, we live in a narcissistic society where individuality and self-promotion are vital to one’s success. Social media has prioritized self-love so much that all focus is naturally drawn to the self. Therefore, I agree with Confucius’s belief that individuals need to do more for their community rather than focusing on themselves. To strengthen a society, people need to concentrate on doing good deeds for other people and learn to interact positively with others, and not indulge in self-obsession. Moreover, one of the most commonly taught principles in philosophy and ethics is the Golden Rule. It states that a person should treat others the way they themselves wish to be treated. In the Bible, Luke 6:31 and Matthew 7:12 say, “Do to others as you would have them do.” The Golden Rule implies that everyone is raised with the same set of values and morals—where every person is treated with dignity and respect. For example, a kindergartner is taught to share his toys with his friends because he would want them to share their toys with him. However, society as a whole is so caught up in their own world that they do not always think of other people’s feelings. For instance, when someone sends a text or posts a picture online, they may not be aware of how their actions and words affect the people around them. Additionally, someone who does not treat themselves with respect cannot be expected to treat others respectfully. In order to reestablish a civil society, we need to concentrate on being more compassionate, selfless, and understanding of the world and people around us.
While Plato believed that all men are born inherently evil, Socrates believed that each individual is born with good intentions and desires to make good decisions. Personally, I think each person is unique and different and there is no straight answer as to whether or not each individual is inherently good or evil. If an inherently good person is exposed to evil or is the victim of an immoral situation, those traumatic events can corrupt the soul and influence that person’s behavior. Essentially, a person is a product of their genetic makeup and the environment they grew up in. For example, an innocent, young boy who has been the victim of domestic or sexual abuse develops behaviors and tendencies similar to his abusers and eventually becomes an abuser himself.
I do not think people are born wishing to do evil. When a baby is born, the baby is completely innocent, and it is not until outside factors and the natural sins of the world start influencing the individual that they start acting on those evils. Furthermore, I believe the fate of a good, ethical society rests in the hands of the leaders because they are the ones that influence society and create and enforce the laws. For example, if the person in power created corrupt rules, as Mussolini or Hitler did, the result would be a corrupt society. Likewise, if the leader is corrupt, his officers are corrupt, and the people follow suit, fearing punishment or death. Essentially, society is only as good as its leaders. During Confucius’s lifetime, he constructed a list of five societal relationships which were between husband and wife, parent and child, elder and younger, ruler and subject, and friend and friend. These five individual relationships are connected and unify a community of people. In strengthening these five relationships, society would strengthen and stabilize over time. Going back to biblical times would not make a difference because life was simpler and people of that time period did not have to deal with social media or the internet. Consequently, the process of strengthening societal relationships would be more effective than reverting back to biblical times in order to create a better society.
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