Another letter for Darren

Dear Darren

Whoever you are, thank you for your response. Good to know some of our youngsters can assimilate more than 140 characters of the written word at any one time! That A grade in English of yours must mean something after all.

You tell me you're still undecided about applying for 'Uni'. Why, you ask, do I not suggest one of the options I listed in that first letter? And which option, you further ask, did I actually select for myself?

Well, that original Socrates never dished out advice to the young, he dispensed only his wisdom. I told you I would not be discussing myself, but would hope to take the same line as my mentor in ancient Greece. Besides, the road down which I have travelled for near on four score years may not - cannot - be the one for you. You will find your road or it will find you and you will travel it to its end, as will I to mine.You may pr may not agree that this is where our roads will meet.

Here's something that may help you to make up your own mind ... You see, I have long since developed a conviction that we are all born into this world pre-wired with four lights with which we see our way through life. The first of these is a sense of a power beyond understanding. The original Socrates agreed at his trial that yes, he was the wisest of men, but only because he was the only one to understand that he knew little or nothing. 'A power beyond understanding'. Call it religion if you must, though in my view this is not a good word, religion having been responsible for some of humanity's nastiest atrocities. Some choose these days to ignore it or to switch it off, preferring the feely touchy God of secularism / materialism. But Darren, take a look at the faces and who do you reckon are the more content, more 'fulfilled', people who believe themselves to be in the presence of their God or folk beavering around in a Tesco?


The second light is that of one’s nation and/or one’s race, much dimmed these days, of course, by officialdom - the dreaded political correctness. There's nothing wrong with conformity (too many non-conformists would equal a most uncomfortable anarchy!) but as the mind control echelon has not yet achieved all of its aims you are allowed privately to detest our present day PC. Because however intensely you should respect all people, your own nation and your own race should always to be a source of pride; a light that shines pure and clean, clear and bright. It gets so much darker when you switch it off.


According to my belief our third is the light of love for family. Your siblings, parents and grandparents are your rock, your island in the turbulent stream, your shelter from the storm, all that stuff. You don't have to be like them, but I do suggest that you love them. The light of that love will help you avoid many a dark and dangerous pothole in the way ahead. 


But then there is this all-powerful fourth light which is that of our very selves. It is as private, as unique and as exclusive as our fingerprints or our DNA. It’s the bundle of talents, proclivities, characteristics and behaviour that lightens each our own way. But that fourth light of mine is not only for me or yours for you but it can illuminate the way for others also, whether they be friends, aquaintances, workfellows or the unknowable strangers and descendants who may come to hear of that which you or I do / have done. It helps them as the fourth light of others helps us. (As Socrates's, for instance, helps me two and a half thousand years after he dosed himself with poison.) After we leave this place its fading away takes time. It glows soft or bright for a matter of weeks or months or for years. And sometimes, if very rarely, this fourth light shines with such a truth and such a strength that it cannot be extinguished for so long as the foot of Man walks upon the face of mother Earth. It is, indeed, immortal. 

How bright will be your own fourth light, young man? Does it matter? I do hope so. The question of you going to Uni not going to Uni is of slight importance by comparison - but is still a decision for you and you alone. Not your teachers, not your parents, not your peers and certainly not for me. 

With the love of an ancient stranger

Socrates 





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