Philosophy and Public Service
For the past two weeks, I have been traveling to national parks with my brother. A great trip to some amazing parts of our great nation.
While riding in the truck (3,300 miles thus far) and camping in the outdoors, I have had lots of time for reading.
In addition to some easy adventure books, I have been reading some serious philosophy. I minored in philosophy in college. I have re-read about 900 pages by 60+ philosophers, from the pre-Socratics before 500 BC to the British romanticists in the 1800s.
A few brief observations.
First, all of these philosophers are significantly brighter than I. I am in awe of their ability to think and enable me to see the world with new eyes.
Second, a primary concern among our world’s greatest thinkers has always been how to live together with other people: from Plato’s Utopia to St. Augustine’s City of God and City of Man to Thomas Hobbes’ reflections on monarchs and subjects to John Locke’s emphasis on the duty of society to support life, liberty and freedom.
All these brilliant people yearned for a human society – one in which all people work together for the good of all. None of them agreed on how to create a perfect society, but all of them aspired for a better society.
No one is an island. We all live in community. We all must work together for the sake of every person.
As I reflect on the possible opportunity to serve on the Concord City Council, I am reminded that political office is never about what one gains but how one serves others. The best human communities are those where everyone cooperates together to benefit everyone.
I hope that all our leaders and I may learn from these philosophers to create a better Concord.