What would Socrates do?

THE 2022 elections are just around the corner, and the heightened online discourse about politics and politicians has been ignited once again. While several users have said that they would not let politics affect their relationships with their families and friends, some are keen to simply cut ties with people who support “the wrong candidate.”

These acts of cutting ties or retaining the relationship with those who have different political opinions are prevalent in the current discourse of people with partisan inclinations. Even if different camps are willing to converse with those who are either undecided or already have another candidate in mind, others do not want to discuss with people who have opposing views. This often causes division and affects one’s relationship with other people.

Thus, the bigger question is, how should Filipinos approach people of different political beliefs?

I do not think that either just letting your loved ones vote for their preferred candidate or severing ties with them altogether are the right things to do because these approaches are very lax and passive from any angle. Both methods lack the necessary critical dialogue. Perhaps, we can derive an approach from people who have lived way before us—like Socrates.

Socrates, along with Plato and Aristotle, makes up the Greek philosophical triumvirate. These guys, especially Socrates, are three of the greatest thinkers that this world has ever known. If we are to engage in political discourse today, perhaps, we should situate ourselves to how our early philosophers would approach the dialogue. Thus, we should ask: What would Socrates do?

One of my favorite concepts in Ethics and Philosophy classes is the Socratic Method.  Basically, a person can ask as many questions as they want until they reach a satisfactory answer. As Filipinos, we should adopt the Socratic method of learning when talking about politics, even if we have cultural barriers that prevent us from speaking with our families about governance in general.

If we are just to accept who a person will vote for, how sure are we that they will choose the right candidates? This can also apply to ourselves because what if we’re the ones with the poor voting decisions?

Instead of cutting ties or letting people be, may we all learn to adapt the Socratic method as there is wisdom in asking questions and initiating discourses without name-calling or mudslinging.

At a time when several high officials are good at igniting demoralizing rhetoric, ordinary citizens should have the initiative to raise the bar high with critical dialogues. This way, we can prevent ourselves from drowning in empty, divisive, and dangerous narratives.  F

Editor’s Note: This column was originally published in Vol. 57, Issue No. 1 of The Flame. View the entire issue through this link. 

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