The Rational Contradiction Embedded in Celebration of Yuletide
Every December 25, either via forced rest in context of a public holiday, or because we believe, all over the world, we celebrate the birth of a man who, at age of 33, was crucified on a cross — this between two men who had been well known in the community to be armed robbers. This, subsequent to not been able to beat out a murderer, Barrabas, in a popularity contest.
Regardless of the manner of this man’s death — the most humiliating sort of death possible during His times — we consider it rational to set apart two days in honor of His life.
Why do we do this?
Because it is fact of life that sometimes, because the establishment is dumb and evil, good men have met with horrible deaths.
Consider Socrates. Socrates was asked to drink poison, and at a little north of 70 years of age, with the belief that he did not have very much for which to continue to live, Socrates acceded. In Plato’s Republic, Socrates does not make any effort to avoid the guilty verdict, rather makes exactly the sort of arguments that would induce a verdict of ‘guilty’.
What was the crime committed by Socrates?
Socrates taught ways of looking at things that made people question the current order of life.
A supposedly democratic Athenian (Greek) society executed a man for ideas?
The contradiction that subsists between ‘Greatness’ and ‘Manner of Death’ is one of the stylized contradictions of life.
Today, regardless of manner of his death, we celebrate Socrates as a man whose wisdom was way ahead of his time.
The resulting ‘ignoring’ of manner of death for focusing on manner of life is one of the greatest illustrations of a contradiction that embeds rationality.
The source of the rationality?
A man must be judged by what he does with his free will, not by what others presume to have power to do to him or her.
We think Jesus a Great ‘man’ because of what He did with His time, His life, and His willingness to be vulnerable in order to bring love first to 12 men who never would have believed, prior to their encounter with Christ, that love could be manly, and then to the rest of the world.
We think Socrates a Great man, because his willingness to apply his mind created a pupil, Plato, who would have another pupil, Aristotle, who with two sets of great minds to build on, would be able to formulate philosophy in words that are articulate, in words that could be discussed with a farmer. Socrates started out abstractly, Aristotle would make philosophy about the living of life.
One man chooses to apply his mind, and the ripples from that decision remain with us to this day. One ‘man’ chooses to love to the fullest that is possible, and the ripples continue to widen in time.
As you celebrate life and love this Yuletide season, I hope what you do with your free will has in it the seed of Greatness.