Philosophy Monday (13)

51. What two questions would you ask to get the most information about who a person truly is?

We probably want to assume it is a person who’s not close to us, so we know nothing about them. Also, getting the most information doesn’t necessarily mean that we get to know everything about them. It just means that we are able to get them to divulge as much as possible about themselves by posing two questions only. So, what would those two questions be? Or what would the questions be based on?

Your first question should be one that would put them at ease; something to make them feel comfortable opening up to you. From that, you try and gather any nonverbal clue they might give off. Do they sound excited or reclusive? Happy or unhappy? There are so many clues you can gather as they answer that first question. You can probably guess a little about their background or experience from the way they talk. The question could be anything. Just make it as amicable as possible. For example, make a positive remark of something they’re reading, and ask if they like a similar book you’d just read.

Building from whatever you notice in their first reply, you can then go on to ask the important question. It should be a question that will attract a lengthy reply. Something that would make them talk on and on. You’d probably need to tell them some things about yourself too, so it would appear more as a conversation. If we should continue with the book analogy, then you could ask if they agree with the writer on some relevant points.

Nevertheless, it is safe to conclude that we can’t really apply the same two questions in all scenarios.

52. Some people believe that if life has no purpose, then there is no reason for living. While others think that if life has no purpose, that frees a person to find/create and follow their own personal purpose. Which is a more valid point of view or are they both equally valid?

Sometimes we don’t immediately realize it, but there’s always a purpose to life. We’re all born into our different purposes. Everything we’re given; everything we gain; everything we give, they’re all part of the equation.

Do not compare yourself with another person. Instead, focus on your own calling, by being thankful for the things you have and striving to leave the world a better place. As Pablo Picasso puts it: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away”.

53. Does absolute power corrupt absolutely?

Time after time, we’ve seen people who made ‘power’ seem so obnoxious and dangerous. The recent political upheaval surrounding Donald Trump is another perfect illustration. But, what does this say about power? Does it mean that power corrupts or the corridors of power are filled with corruptible people?

We’ve seen that humans, powerful or not, are capable of grievous deeds. It just happens that those who possess considerable power are easily pointed out. Edmund Burke wrote: “The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse”. That is why we notice more the corruption and depravities of those who happen to be powerful.

It is true, power does have a haughty aura about it, and maybe that’s why the original quote by Lord Acton in 1887 remains popular. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men…” he wrote. Of course, the idea behind this quote goes farther back than the 19th century, seeing how much has been revealed of the moral debasement of past rulers and people in authority.

However, it can be concluded that it is more a failure on the part of humankind than anything else. As Abraham Lincoln puts it, “if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”. Everywhere in our societies, there will be positions of authority that need filling. These positions come with considerable power, and some people will have to assume them. But if we are led by the power of love instead of the love of power, as advised by Mahatma Gandhi, then we’ll see less of corruption.

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