States are as the men, they grow out of human characters.

States are as the men, they grow out of human characters.Plato

Why was Sparta the way it was? The people made it what it was.

Why was Sparta the way it was? It was because of the people and their moral values.

What does that mean?
Consider your national identity. It might not be true for you, but at one point it was a sufficiently common trait to label a whole group.

But the state, being a group of people, will reflect their common values and desires. Whether you agree with it or not, most groups of people have commonly assigned characteristics. The same applies to states, by extension.

Casanova may have single-handedly given all Italian males the an aura of good lovers. A couple of clever handymen may have given the US the mantle of Yankee Ingenuity.

Similarly, a few countries have passed through darker days, and were known for the all too human characteristics of their leaders, even if it was only a very vocal minority who espoused them.

Why is being moral important?
Change begins at home. You may not be able to change or improve the nature of your country, or how the rest of the world perceives it, but you can change your behavior and your character. As more people begin to notice your example, and be inspired by it, the more people will start to change. Some people will influence just a few people, others influence millions.

While there will be some differences of opinion regarding the details of morals, if we work together towards a common goal, those morals and traits we share will be amplified. And they will be noticed by others. It may even become a national obsession, for better or worse.

Consider the counter examples throughout history. People with radically different moral values have appeared, and influenced cultures for the worse. As the winners write the history books, the moral values of the defeated are often held out as bad (or worse). The determination is quite often correct.

To me, being moral is rooted in helping others and protecting the defenseless. In my opinion, the world would be a better place if each person were to put in a little more effort. As more people do so, the countries of the Earth would also change, and for the better of us all.

Where can I apply this in my life?
As was mentioned before, unless you have access to a major media outlet on a regular basis and can make a point of helping people improve (or at least be an example for a great many to see), you’re going to be limited to working on yourself, and some close friends. And that’s a great place to start.

I would recommend becoming an example of what you would like your family, friends, town, region, country, and even planet to become. Think about what you wish these groups had, and in which they are presently deficient. It might help to start at the smaller end of the spectrum and work your way up to changing the world, right?

If we start with ourselves, what do you think you could do, or do better, to help improve things around you? What are your morals, and where do you think you could improve? Do you lie a little too often? Are you not as kind as you could be? Could you be more helpful to others? Take some time and consider it.

With some ideas about where you could improve yourself, consider what you could do to actually make it happen. Would it help you if you thought a little more about how others feel? How would you help yourself notice that you were about to do something the old way? Take a moment and answer those questions.

As you improve yourself and become the person you think would be a great example, it might be time to go a little larger. How can you do these things in a way that was an example which others could look up to and try to emulate? Start with your family and friends, and see if you can impress them.

If you can show them the benefits of your improved way, you might get them to try it, and even adopt it as their new behavior. Even if they only changed a little, it’s an improvement. Be an example that is so impressive that even the most skeptical friend is moved to improve themselves. It can be done.

Then what? If you run out of friends, you might look to a larger audience. How do you catch the eye of a stranger and convince the to change? Doing great things in public helps. But the point isn’t to be a publicity hound, unless you truly have changed yourself. You don’t want to be caught saying one thing and doing another, right?

Even if you only help a handful of people change, it is a start. And every once in a while, one person can change the nature of not only themselves, but a whole country. The examples are in the history books, and they are lauded or hated to this day.

I hope you will choose to help make yourself, your country, and the world a better place. Where will you start?

From: Twitter, @philo_quotes
confirmed at : http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.9.viii.html search for “states are as”
(this quote is probably also the source of “This City is what it is because our citizens are what they are.” if translated from the era or viewpoint of the city-state)
Photo by Pascal

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