Most Athenians used to love Socrates because of his remarkable level of wisdom, deep insight, and self-command on his own emotions. One day in 399 BC at his 70 years of age, Socrates had to stand before 500 jurors. The trial occurred soon after Athens’s defeat at the hands of Sparta in the Peloponnesian War when Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth. The trial took place in the heart of the city surrounded by a crowd of spectators. The accusers were allotted three hours to present their case, after which, the philosopher had three hours to defend himself. After hearing the arguments of both Socrates and his accusers, the juries who all were seated on the wooden benches cast vote on his guilt. Under Athenian law, the jurors did not deliberate the point, instead, each juror registered his judgment by placing a small disk into an urn marked either “guilty” or “not guilty.” Socrates was found guilty by a vote of 280 to 220. The philosopher was taken to the nearby jail where his sentence would be carried out. He spent his last days in prison. The man did not escape on opportunities rather accepted to die by drinking poison hemlock. Socrates used his death as a final lesson for his pupils to stand firm for the cause of truth. He stood for the righteousness of his opinion and kept his head always high.
We want to be honoured in life. We all seek to be respected, dignified and admired, but the true sense of honour and respect often gets blurred in the storm of power competition. We want success but the meaning of success shifts with time and context every day. We want to lead a life with pride, but mostly we remain ignorant about the true sense of our glory. We always want to keep heads high with respect and honour, but what does it mean to hold this pride? People constantly pursue dignity in life. But what drives us to pursue this subjective feeling for the whole of our lives? Many people have perused these questions for quite a long time. These questions have shaped much of the realization of the purpose of life. Humans are found more of a spiritual entity than biological and the spirit makes us different from each other. Indeed, the human spirit is the crown, the best creation in this universe and we feel absolutely blessed to own that crown. Learning to keep the head ever high is the responsibility of every human to honour the human spirit. It is the source of all enlightenment and tranquillity in life.
”Ever high is my head” means I know my obligations, and I put my best to comply with those which are appropriate. It means I am fully aware of my beliefs, and I am absolutely focused to uphold what I believe to be true. Keeping the head ever high does not mean arrogance, but being persistently calm and humble for the purpose of justice. It means a strong sense of self-respect and discipline in life.
The concept is even more powerful in a leader’s life. Challenges come and go, but a leader does not compromise his ethics. Opportunities and amenities come with flower buckets, but a leader remains firm to his values and principles. Keeping the head ever high speaks about the tenacity to face odds. It means listening to the voice of the inner self and not the pressure of powers. A leader with a strong sense of self-esteem pursues the deep sense of this truth. He always speaks and acts by heart. He does not feel hesitant to accept mistakes or admit his own limitations. Such a leader always stands for justice and works for the rights of his men. A man becomes a leader only if he can hold this precious mental ability ignoring all adverse influences. A leader does not cry but smiles like Socrates or Khudiram in the face of execution because they love and pursue the truth and justice. “Ever high is my head” means I am firm on my beliefs and principles. It does not mean, I am perfect, but it means I am always ready to accept the truth and reform myself to be better than yesterday.”