The Unexamined Life

Statler and Waldorf were the two old men who sat at the back of the Muppet Show, watching and criticising. I like:

Statler: Wake up you old fool. You slept through the show.

Waldorf: Who’s a fool? You watched it.

The Greek philosopher Socrates is tributed with saying: ‘The unexamined life is not worth living’ at his trial. He was accused of encouraging his students to challenge the accepted beliefs of the time and think for themselves.

Socrates says, ‘Don’t sleep through life; don’t live the ‘unexamined life’. Be aware and awake; challenge, think, examine, question…’

‘Wicked’, the stage musical, tells the story of the two witches in ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Fiyero, a character who becomes the brain-less scarecrow, believes that people should ignore school and live the ‘Unexamined Life’. He sings:

‘…Dancing through life
Skimming the surface
Gliding where turf is smooth
Life’s more painless
For the brainless
Why think too hard?’

Fiyero believes that we’re happier and better off if we don’t stress, don’t think – just dance, take life easy; avoiding thought you’ll avoid trouble and worry. He has a point. Over-examination and dwelling on past mistakes and failures can lead to stress and unhappiness.

Musing this morning on Thomas (John 20):

  • Disciples: Thomas is one of Jesus’ followers.
  • Disappointment: He had not seen the living Jesus as the others had.
  • Doubt: He thinks Jesus was still dead: he needed proof.
  • Demand: He says: ‘Unless I see I will not believe.’
  • Demonstration: He sees Jesus who talks to him personally.
  • Decision: faced with the evidence Thomas has to decide to move on.

Moving On: I understand Thomas’ concerns. He was confused, grieving and uncertain, alongside his friends who were in the same situation. He needed to examine, and analyse, but he needed then to make a decision and move on.

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