Solving Problems

Lucian of Samosata, a Greco-Roman philosopher, in his satire “Hermotimus or the Rival Philosophies” discusses the problems of determining which philosophy of his time (120 to 200 AD) he should follow in his quest to discover what is true.  He compares such problems with a person who wants to but “cannot plunge into the depths of the sea at Sicily and come up at Cyprus, or soar on wings and fly within the day from Greece to India. . .” [1]

In his era this was impossible but it is easily done in our era.  Why?  It is because we have worked together to solve the problems of traveling under the sea and through the air.  If we can solve those problems, why cannot we solve our other problems?

Human history is a record of the constant rise and fall of civilizations, and of constant wars between nations.  The atrocities committed on a daily basis on our planet are staggering.  The major problem the human race faces is not in discovering new scientific facts or in developing new technology to improve our lives as is evidenced by the problems that have been solved by science; the problem is in getting along with each other as is evidenced from watching the news.  We are very adept at using science and technology for our wars and terrorists acts.  We have become very efficient in utilizing our technology to destroy human life.  We have developed our agricultural science to such an extent that the issue is no longer having sufficient food to feed the world but whether we have the will to end starvation on our planet. [2]

If we can solve technical problems to make our lives easier, why cannot we solve the human relationship problem?  Why, in the words of Mark Twain, do we humans make “a graveyard of the globe in trying [our] honest best to smooth [our] brother’s path to happiness and heaven”?  [3]  The answer is because we do not desire to solve this problem.  We would rather pursue our selfish interests than solve this age old problem.


[1]   H. W. Fowler and F. G. Fowler, Works of Lucian of Samosata, Vol. 2, Public Domain Books, Kindle edition, Location 1046.

[2]   Dan Morgan, Merchants of Grain (New York, NY:  Penguin Books, 1980), pp. 444-445.

[3]   Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth (Greenwich, Conn.:  Fawcett Publications, 1962), p. 180.

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