It’s hard to shake our backgrounds. Part of my unshakeable background is an obnoxious appreciation of Philosophy. So much that I seek it out, sometimes at my own expense (see My college major). One of my favorite things about it is how stories can be used to illustrate ideas. Sometimes true history, sometimes fantastic metaphor, the stories we encounter also become part of our backgrounds.
As the story goes, Hermodorus was a student of Plato and helped circulate Plato’s writings. Since people thought Plato was pretty smart and his ideas were sort of state-of-the-art, this put Hermodorus in a category where he was thought of as some kind of elite, at least by some and most likely by himself. Heraclitus, one of my personal favorite philosophers, talked about when the Ephesians kicked Hermodorus out of their city, saying:
“We will have none of who is best among us;
if there is any such,
let him be so elsewhere and among others.”
So many of us are uneasy at admitting confusion, misunderstanding, and the other things that keep us from knowing it all. Blame our backgrounds. Although our backgrounds may not be shakeable, we can shake so much, including our response when face to face with a confusing or complicated situation.
Disclaimer: This is the part where someone is probably trying to sell you something.
Legal professionals have come to be viewed as separate, institutional, even some sort of special. They are also human and with that comes some necessary gaps in understanding.
I can say confidently that there is so much I do not know. As I’m writing this, I am technically a young professional with biased and partial life experiences. The only part of that likely to change is the ‘young’ part.
The story I shared could mean that we shouldn’t try to be the best. I don’t read it that way. I read it as a commitment to always try to become better, to recognize the gaps in our own abilities and understanding, and to collaborate with curiosity. In my own practice, this means doing everything I can to help to make clients’ problems a little smaller and their goals a little closer.