Scene: MLK meets Socrates as they are about to be put on trial to see if they are worthy enough for heaven.God: Trial of worthiness for heaven for Martin Luther King Jr. and Socrates to begin in 5 minutes. Please take your seats.
MLK: Are you actually Socrates? The real Socrates from 339 BCE?
Socrates: One and the same, sadly.
MLK: But why then Socrates if you have died some 2,000 years ago are you still not in heaven?
Socrates: I guess The Almighty just hasn’t liked my answers so far. But, I keep trying and trying to change the philosophy of The Almighty.
God: The trial is now in session. Case number 2,987 for Socrates; trial number 1 for Martin Luther King Jr. In this trial you will be asked a series of questions and/or presented with different scenarios that you will then react to in the way you think best. By your answer, I will decide if you will prosper for eternity in heaven or suffer forever down below. Does this sound fair?
Socrates: As I have spoken before, to simply conclude, Almighty, that heaven shall bring happiness while hell shall not is, to say the least, shallow. For it is my belief that Virtue is sufficient for happiness. How is it that You, Almighty, which of course is what You deserve to be called, can determine a soul’s happiness? For can’t one have a moral obligation and good in hell just as easy as heaven? Therefore, creating happiness where You believe happiness does not exist.
God: Socrates, I am God. Do you agree with my proposal or shall this court case not even continue?
Socrates: I will, and always will, agree with the goodness and virtue of the law. For, breaking any law is an unjust act. However, the lawmaker can have faults and this is where the change might be needed.
God: Socrates, are you aware that I am the lawmaker and the one deciding whether you spend eternity in heaven? Moving along.... Martin Luther King Jr., do you have any problems with the law or the lawmaker, before we start?
MLK: I believe that maybe the law might be unjust. Is it just for one to have a say on how another spends eternity? In this case, I cannot say, for I was raised a religious being; one who believes in the power of God. But laws can be unjust and those laws need to be changed.
God: Two philosophers in this trial I see. That’s just great.
I will begin with the first question for both of you. A man plotted multiple terrorist attacks and destroyed the lives of 2,996 people. This person also claims to be fighting injustice and for a cause. Should this person be sent to heaven or hell? Martin Luther King Jr., we will start with you.
MLK: Injustice might have been corrupting and put this man and his people in an awful situation. However, it is my belief that injustice should be fought with peaceful direct action. I do not exactly know the cause of this man’s injustice, but a different approach should have been taken to find a solution. Therefore, I am afraid that I would have to sentence that man to hell.
Socrates: But, Dr. King, I am a firm believer that no one does wrong willingly or knowingly. Even though this man has committed a horrible crime, taking the lives of thousands, his punishment should be the decision of the laws that dictate the Earth. For those are not evil -- like sending a man to hell for eternity. I also believe that no one desires evil. So how can it be right to serve this man evil on a platter? So no, this man should not be sent to hell.
MLK: But, Socrates, this man has taken the lives of almost three-thousand! How does he not deserve any evil?
Socrates: For the simple fact that he has done no evil willingly. Even though we may think that this is a heinous crime, it might have been his only option. But if no one does wrong, then no one desires evil.
MLK: But I am also a firm believer that there must have been another way to receive justice than the actions that man decided to take.
God: Your responses have been heard. Now we move to the next question.
Both of you pretend that you are living in the greatest kingdom known to man. The wealth is enjoyed for about 70-percent of the population. But, this wealth is built on the backs of the 30-percent minority. The laws separate these two groups of people. The majority are educated, have luxuries, and government aid gets provided by law. If you are in the minority how do you, right the wrong of the land if there is wrong at all?
MLK: I believe in four basic steps in a nonviolent campaign against the unjust laws the majority has created. I would most likely handle this situation very much like the one in Birmingham. The four steps include:
- Collection of facts to determine whether injustice exists
- Self purification
- Direct action.
Just as my friend, Socrates, felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind, so that individuals could rise from bondage, I believe that in this case, the people of the minority, of the oppressed, should stand with peaceful action and stop waiting for a solution that might never come. Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed.
Unjust laws that bind people of goodness must be undone and destroyed. People can peacefully stand and create an environment of tension that brings down the unjust laws that bind them.
Socrates: True, Dr. King. I have always been a strong advocate of tension within the mind. People are blessed with virtue. If one finds the way to spread the warmth of knowledge, then at the same time, the person will spread virtue, for virtue is knowledge and vice versa.
You will never be able to run away from your problems. When I was sentenced to death by the courts of Athens, I was given an option: to leave Athens and live out the rest of my life in peace. I could not agree to that option because I would be going against the greatness of the community.
In my case in Athens, and maybe in this case, Dr. King and I differ. I believe that all laws are created justly and with the greatest of intents. But, lawmakers and perceptions of laws, at times, can be flawed. In my view, one should not disobey laws at any time. But, one should bring enlightenment and virtue to the law makers so that the laws are upheld with a correct moral outlook.
MLK: But, Socrates, are there not times when truly a law is unjust? When a law is a moral law or the law of God, isn’t it just? When law makes a code that is out of harmony with moral law, doesn’t that create an unjust law that needs to be changed?
Socrates: Yes. You are correct that the law of God and moral laws are the ones we most hold dear and follow. But, other laws are not flawed by design because people do not do evil knowingly. Therefore, injustice might have been committed, but the committee did so without knowing. Therefore, the best approach is enlightenment and the spread of virtue through the lawmakers.
God: I have taken your answers into consideration and the decision is final for both. Martin Luther King Jr, you are granted eternity in heaven. Socrates, if you admit that I know all and am the wisest and smartest being ever, then a trip to heaven is granted to you. However, if you do not, you must spend eternity in hell.
Socrates: God, do you know everything?
God: Yes. Of course. I created everything.
Socrates: How big is the earth?
God: The diameter of the Earth is 12,742 kilometers.
Socrates: Very good. Do you know right from wrong?
Socrates: Do you know if I will go to heaven or hell?
God: It, of course, depends on your answer to this question.
Socrates: Then You do not know everything and therefore know nothing. For once one door is open that is vast with a question that you do not know, another door will soon appear followed by another and another and another. From this one unknown the cycle continues on for eternity proving that You know nothing. I know that I know nothing. You, on the other hand, think You know everything. But really, You know nothing while I know one thing and only one; that I know nothing. Therefore, I can not say You are the wisest being in history, for it would be a lie.
God: Then you will be forced to spend eternity in Hell.
MLK: If the great Socrates is to burn in hell for all eternity, and I prosper in heaven, a great injustice has just occurred in this realm. Socrates is a man who I emulated throughout my life. He is a trailblazer in the search for knowledge and his teachings helped countless in quests for better understanding of the world. He should not be sent to suffer. He, of all people, do not deserve that hardship.
Socrates: I follow the decision of the law. I am comfortable with this decision. What would eternity be like with no suffering and problems. I will carry virtue into hell and therefore be happy for eternity.
MLK: No! How can a great soul of Socrates be forced to spend eternity in hell?
Socrates: Don’t worry Dr. King. As long as one carries virtue one carries happiness, and therefore hell will be even more grand then heaven.
MLK: But no bad can befall any good man in life or death. So, once again, I get to witness injustice. It seems in life and death they are abundant. So, I will follow Socrates to Hell, bound by the cause to right the wrongs. We shall step into this injustice together. Be ready for fights in Hell, together.
God: You both, my friends, have given witness and passed the test. You have showed that in life and death you are willing to give up all luxuries, freedom, and happiness to stand for a cause greater then yourselves. I am truly honored to send you to heaven where, you both, eternally belong.