Wealth does not bring goodness, but goodness brings wealth and every other blessing, both to the individual and to the State.
~Plato, The Apology of Socrates, 30a-b
Picture Socrates in 399 BCE. He is on trial, charged by the state for corrupting the youth of Athens by teaching them to challenge the status quo. He is in front of the jury making a speech in his own defense.
Socrates tells the jury that what he teaches is that truth and justice are most important, not wealth and honor. Goodness, he states flatly, does not come from money. Instead, it is from goodness that come wealth and other benefits that are good for the individual and for the public. And for emphasis, Socrates stresses he will not change his beliefs or ways, even if he is sent to his death. (Spoiler alert: he is found guilty and condemned to death.)
LRN LAF LUV LIV for LYF echoes Socrates’ belief in the power of goodness. Material wealth does not ensure goodness. There are many people with wealth who do not show goodness in their character or goodness in their actions. There are many people of wealth with ill-gotten gains or who are unhappy with their lives.
Rather, it is goodness in character and goodness in actions that generate immense wealth to the individual and to others who are recipients of that goodness. In the Philosophy for LYF lingo, through goodness you grow true wealth for yourself and give true worth to others.
For example, the knowledge and experiences you gain when you focus on improving yourself can translate to having better skills and making better decisions in life. These in themselves are valuable. They also open doors to more opportunities and better jobs and better incomes. Who wouldn’t want to hire someone with better skills and better decision-making over someone without them. The same applies to those with better attitudes, those who treat themselves and others respectfully, and those who show a commitment to do the best of their ability. These examples of true wealth gained from the LRN LAF LUV LIV deeds of goodness often beget material wealth if desired by the individual.
A reader provided a simple, real-world example of how this message hits home with her. As a way of relieving stress from work, she learned to knit. She talked about knitting with her friends and posted about it on social media. Others shared their knitting knowledge. She learned more from the kindness of others in sharing their knowledge, became more adept, and used her newly acquired knitting skills while volunteering at a nursing home. As she knitted with the seniors, she realized the importance of having a purpose (giving true worth) even when life is winding down. She suggested, and the residents all agreed, that they knit beanies for babies and socks for the homeless. Her learning of knitting to help herself deal with stress not only accomplished her personal goal, but her wealth spread out in worthy ripples of goodness toward others.
Socrates would heartily agree. Go do goodness. And you will reap the rewards.
For those of us who like to read quotes in context, here is a different and expanded translation of Plato's writing by Benjamin Jowett, including the sentences before and after.
For I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons and your properties, but first and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul.
I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue come money and every other good of man, public as well as private.
This is my teaching, and if this is the doctrine which corrupts the youth, my influence is ruinous indeed. But if anyone says that this is not my teaching, he is speaking an untruth. Wherefore, O men of Athens, I say to you, do as Anytus bids or not as Anytus bids, and either acquit me or not; but whatever you do, know that I shall never alter my ways, not even if I have to die many times.
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