Socrates' great problem is ours: “Why is it that men (people) know what is good but do what is bad.” I wonder this morning, and have often wondered, if we really know what is good? Naturally, I think I know what is good, and just as naturally, you think you know what is good. How do I know what is good? How do you know? In some form or another, all of us repeat the experience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, seeking to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in order to find out for ourselves whether what we have been told is good (right) and whether what we have been told is bad is really wrong. We are not all told the same things. My grandparents, parents, teachers, and the church, etc., told me what was good. Who told you? Generally, we accept what we have been told, experiment with it, put it to the test, and eventually, over the years, determine in our own consciences what is good and what is bad. But it is apparent in these days that we differ in our opinions of what is good, so that we come to a place where what is “the good” for me may seem “the bad” to you.
Is there a universal good? A “good” that has evolved and found root in the history of the human race? Is it a “good” to act on the premise that all men, women and children are endowed with certain unalienable rights?” Is this a common, universal good? If so, we are immediately confronted with Socrates’ great problem. If it is good, why do we ignore it, reject it, and push it aside, or argue about who deserves what? Or suppose, I say that the "good" is to “love our neighbor?” Again, if this is a common, universal good, why do we ask “Who is my neighbor?” and wage war.
The polarization of our nation and our world implies that we have differing views on what is “good.” This is our moral dilemma. The problem is US—you, me, all of us. We differ about what is “good," and wonder if there really is a “common good." The word "sin" comes to mind—and I don’t mean in a religious sense—but in the sense that the word is defined in the Webster dictionary—“the failure to realize in conduct and character the moral ideal, at least as fully as possible under existing circumstances; failure to do as one ought towards one’s fellow man.” Or, as St. Augustine described sin, as a turning “away from the universal whole to the individual part…There is nothing greater [i.e. more important, more desirable, more worthy] than the whole. Hence when [a person] desires [seeks, devotes himself to] something greater, he grows smaller.” Who among us wants to grow smaller?