Principle and Honor

November 5, 2002

A long time ago there lived a man in ancient Greece named Socrates.  Socrates was a man of incredible wisdom and he devoted his life to the pursuit of enlightenment and truth.  He was a great teacher of honor and principle, and a genius in the realm of rational logic.  Once, Socrates created the workings of a complete functioning government, entirely in his mind, using only conversation with other people.  These conversations were studiously recorded by one of his pupils, a man who we know today as Plato.  Plato compiled them into one volume that he titled "The Republic" and it is considered one of the masterpieces of human literature today.  Thomas Jefferson and others used much of it when they created the government of the United States in 1776.

Socrates fell from favor among the ruling elite in his home of Athens, Greece.  He was brought to trial on trumped up charges, found guilty, and sentenced to die by drinking poison.  Socrates could have easily left the country and lived elsewhere, but he was a man of principle.  He reasoned that as a citizen of Greece, he was honor bound to obey its laws and judgments, even if flawed.  At the appointed time, he drank the poison and died.

Socrates lived a life of honor and principle that few men have, or will ever, equal.  Each of you needs to establish for yourselves a set of principles and a code of honor to likewise guide your daily actions and steer you down a straight path.  The Ten Commandments, the Scout Oath and Law, are a good foundations upon which to build.  As you travel home this evening, ponder what principles you will use to guide your life and the decisions you make. Then stick to them as you live your remaining days.

Good night, gentlemen.