“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”
All the learned people I have met in my life agree that this Plato fellow was a pretty sharp guy. I tend to agree. His words and teachings have withstood the ravages of the ages. If you’ve spent much time living in, or studying about, Western Civilization, then I’d wager you’ve heard his name mentioned once or twice in your life.
When I first read those words above, attributed to Plato, I thought he hit the nail on the head. War has been going on since the beginning of time. Back when cavemen used to battle over the idea of who had the better life, oh, so much more. (Has life changed all that much?)
One day Caveman Joe began to take notice of Caveman Frank’s woman. Old Joe looked over at his wife, weathered from many years of taking care of her man and five rowdy kids, and compared her to neighbor Frank’s woman, still beautiful after all these years because she didn’t have to bust her ass chasing after five kids—she only had two, well mannered because Frank wasn’t shy about putting those rambunctious boys in line. And, Frank knew how to take care of his woman, too. He provided her with the best of everything; from antelope hide to zebra skin, from apples (crab, of course) to zucchini (wild, most definitely), from bird brains to mastodon meat. Frank knew how to take care of his woman.
Caveman Joe, one night, came up with the idea that he should have some of what his neighbor, Caveman Frank, had, even though he had not lifted one finger to help Frank acquire the life he enjoyed. So, Joe picked up his club, slung it over his left shoulder, and marched his murderous ass over to Frank’s. Frank spied Joe marching his direction, so he grabbed his club and ran out to meet his neighbor halfway. Caveman Joe had a head start. Caveman Frank did not make it halfway. The battle took place in the middle of Frank’s yard.
By time Caveman Joe and Caveman Frank had beaten each other to within an inch of their lives, the Caveman Police showed up. The CP (short for Caveman Police) decided that each of the combatants should be allowed to walk their weary asses down to the Cave Jail. There they sat for four days before the Caveman Judge got around to letting them off the hook. He said they both deserved what they got, and they should be glad they got it. Back then he couldn’t fine them, and since he thought they’d spent long enough in that smelly old Cave Jail, he set them free.
Meanwhile, back at home, to the chagrin of the two men locked up in the hoosegow, Caveman Joe’s wife and Caveman Frank’s wife became the best of friends. Those two guys had to learn to get along, because now each Thursday night they were going to have accompany their wives down to the Zeus Bingo Parlor. When they found out the thought that crossed both their minds was, “This is not right. Man was made for battle, not for bingo.”
What am I getting at here? What I’m getting at has nothing to do with Caveman Joe or Caveman Frank, or their wives. So, I’m not sure why I told you that story, or how I even got on that damn path, anyway. What I wanted to talk about was Plato.
With that statement, above, I don’t think he believed in reincarnation. It kind of sounds like he believed that the end of life was, well, the end of life. There was no showing back up sometime in the future, in some other body, to exact some sort of karmic justice, handed down from life to life until such time as an “eye for an eye” becomes a lesson in reality.
Nope. Once the heart stops, you can be sure that you are not going to witness another war. Hell, you’re not going to get the chance to witness another sunrise or sunset, feel the coolness of a summer rain on a hot day, or feel the touch of another entity marching through time the same as you. That look you got from that drop dead blonde at the end of the bar? Better enjoy the memory while you can, because it’s not coming around again.
Okay, to put a halt to all this rambling I’m doing let me say this: When Plato says, “Only the dead have seen the end of war,” I think he is intimating that there is no such thing as reincarnation. No being reborn into a life similar to what we are living now. That being the case, then there is no possibility of witnessing another war.
But, wait a minute. That all brings to mind another question. Did Plato believe in a soul? Some “thing” that is transported to another location—heaven or hell?—at death? Maybe that’s where all that thinking comes from.