Monday, May 12, 2014

The Original Ultimate Warrior

These days there are a lot of titles, stereotypes and labels that we have created to define people of all walks of life.  For instance, by the title of this post you may think I'm going to write about the recently deceased, world famous wrestler (I'm not).  No, what I want to talk about is a person whose name we all know.  But before I get to the actual name, let me set the stage.

Imagine many of the great minds of the past 300 years.  (I will talk mostly of people from the Western world since I am much more familiar in that area.)  Let's start with Sir Isaac Newton.  Much of modern physics, optics, mechanics, and gravity are based on his work.  We have Marie Curie, who pioneered work into the fields of radiation and nuclear science.  She was also instrumental in developing the X-ray machine, which I can personally appreciate after all of my sports injuries.  There is, of course, Albert Einstein whose contributions need no attribution nor do those of Stephen Hawking.  From the perspective of the human mind, we can look to Sigmund Freud as the progenitor of quite a bit of modern psychology.

Today in the United States we have many bright minds from all over the world who congregate at places like Stanford, MIT, and Johns Hopkins.  Typically, if you are a genius, either in hard science or philosophy, there is an institution dedicated to your particular talents.  It is the modern way within the world to concentrate great thinkers together in order to advance science in whatever form it takes.

Yet, when we incorporate thinking from all parts of the world, dating from 3000 years in the past until today, we come away with a composite of what makes a person truly complete.  Simply stated, in order to achieve full potential, a person must be completely whole - at least according to shared philosophy.  The composite looks thus:

For every human being, there are three components.  As the composite graphic shows, those components are Body, Mind, and Spirit.  Let me briefly describe each of them.

Body - The world is a physical place.  In order to fully engage within it a person must have the ability to tangibly interact with the environment.  This means you must be physically sound because there are daily "Body" challenges that must be overcome.  If you're hungry right now, you know what I mean.

Mind - Every day the world presents us with problems that can be solved.  You must use your powers of intellect and reasoning in order to meet these challenges.  Imagine that you're hungry but the refrigerator door is stuck.  There IS a solution to open it - you just need to figure out how.

Spirit - Many people mistake this component as being religious.  The meaning of the Spirit component is found in problems that have no clear solution.  Imagine that your friend or colleague is upset with you for a reason unknown.  Spirit addresses the problems which have no clear definition and possibly no solution, that we must nevertheless overcome.

Now let's take a look at the great minds I listed previously.  All of them, despite their importance to humankind, exist(ed) almost exclusively in one domain.  Quite obviously, Newton and Einstein were thinkers, which would put their achievements in the "Mind" component.  Freud with his study of human behavior was probably working mostly in "Spirit" with some time spent in "Mind".  Curie, with her work on radiation was operating in the "Mind" realm but I could argue that the X-Ray machine was a "Body" component.

Given the greats we've covered, has there ever been someone who operated in all three components?  The answer is yes - but who?  Surprisingly, even though most people know little about him, the person I have in mind is SOCRATES.  Over the course of his 71 years he did things in all three areas that few people, excepting for maybe Leonardo Da Vinci and Aristotle, have come close to duplicating.  Let me prove it to you.

Body - Socrates was born the son of a stone mason and practiced that trade with his own hands.  If that wasn't enough, Socrates was a true warrior.  He fought as a 'hoplite', or a soldier in the Athenian heavy spear infantry.  Socrates didn't just carry a weapon, he actually fought in the front battle lines and earned distinctions for valor in three separate conflicts (Potidaea, Amphipolis (against the mighty Spartan general Brasidas), and Delium).  In fact, the legendary Athenian general Alcibiades credited Socrates with actually saving his life at Potidaea.  Could you imagine a modern-day intellectual fighting shield-to-shield, spear-to-spear in a phalanx battle line with blood, gore, smoke, and the sounds of men and beasts dying all around?  I can't either.

Mind - Socrates pioneered a problem solving process that we have come to know in modern times as "The Scientific Method".  This approach is the basis for almost every approach to solving a discreet problem by allowing a person to methodically tackle the elements of an issue and solve them in logical order.

Spirit - Socrates is unarguably one of the greatest philosophers of all time.  He is the driving force behind the definition and study of ethics in the modern day.  He is also responsible for the concept of the "Social Contract".  This is a huge topic, but a social contract is essentially the basis for the legitimacy granted by governed people to their government so that it may create and enforce laws that regulate society.  Finally, Socrates developed the "Socratic Method", which is a method to teach critical thinking and a way to attack problems that have no clear structure or solution.

When you think of what it actually means to be an "Ultimate Warrior", wouldn't you agree that Socrates could serve as the definition of the term?

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