“Balance Is Key”
As I prepare for the Western Civilization I CLEP test, I am studying the history of the Near East and Europe from 5000 B.C. to 1648 A.D. and am learning ideals and influences that have shaped Western culture.
The Greek philosophies and politics, in particular, have greatly impacted Western society. I am especially intrigued by three Greek philosophies that still exist in some form today. Stoicism stresses willpower and self-control. Stoics claim that one should ignore pain and pleasure. Epicureanism, on the other hand, emphasizes pleasure. Feelings alone are deemed trustworthy. Sophism, the name of which is derived from the Greek word for “wise,” emphasizes the intellect. Its cure for society is the pursuit of knowledge.
All three of these philosophies emphasize a different part of the soul: will, emotions, or mind. Each aspect is important, but unfortunately the ancient philosophers threw them out of balance. Although self-control is noble, the Stoics stifled emotion through their unyielding self-will. Epicureans fell into debauchery and materialism through their pursuit of pleasure. The Sophists tended to reason away all absolutes. Each group saw one aspect of humanity but took it to the extreme.
Balance—Mr. Shoemaker wisely emphasizes this in his chapel messages. At Verity it is easy to study until we feel as if we are all brain, or to get so stressed that feelings seem all-important, or to become so determined to finish a degree that we forget the purpose of it.
God created man with a soul—mind, will, emotions—and He intended for each to be used for His glory. Our intellect was designed to learn about Him, our hearts to love Him, and our wills to follow Him. Each is important, each is useful. Balance is the key. May we all seek to be, as one parent described the 2004 Verity graduates, “whole and balanced.”