Most Athenians loved Socrates because of his esteem, wisdom, insight, and self-command on his own emotions. One day in 399 BC, at his 70 years of age, Socrates had to stand before a court of 500 jurors. The trial took place soon after Athens’s defeat at the hands of Sparta in the Peloponnesian War. Socrates was accused of corrupting the youths. The trial was held in the heart of the city surrounded by a crowd of spectators. The accusers got 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 seated on the wooden benches cast a vote on his guilt. Under Athenian law, the jurors did not deliberate the point; instead, each juror registered their 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 instead accepted death by drinking poison hemlock. Socrates used his death as a final lesson for his pupils to stand firm and stand upright for the cause of truth. He stood for the righteousness of his argument and kept his head always high.
We want power, status, and honor in life. We all seek to be respected, dignified and admired, but the true sense of honor and respect often gets blurred in the storm of status 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 our heads high with respect and honor, but what does it mean to hold this pride in life? People constantly pursue dignity, but most people are unaware of the appropriate source of these subjective feelings. Many people have perused these questions for quite a long time. These questions have shaped much of the realization of the purpose of human 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 blessed to own that crown. Learning to keep the head ever high means learning to respect the human spirit. Honor, dignity, status, glory all relates to the respect of the human soul. It is the source of all enlightenment and tranquility 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 focused on upholding what I believe to be true. Keeping the head ever high does not mean arrogance but being persistently calm and humble for justice. It means a strong sense of self-respect and discipline in life.
The concept is even more potent in a leader’s life. Challenges come and go, but a leader does not compromise his moralities. 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 leaders’ 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 a deep understanding 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 rights. A man becomes a leader if he can retain 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.”