What are Guardians Angels good for?
A dialogue between Socrates the stick and Aurelius the angel. Socrates knows he does not know anything and this leads him to ask many questions. He then carefully examines the answers. Aurelius wants to be the guardian of classical Judeo-Christian thought while remaining attentive and compassionate.
Socrates: ah, here you are Aurelius, I was looking for you.
Aurelius: I am always with you, Socrates, you should know that.
Socrates: yes, dear Aurelius, this is what you say, but if you are always with me, why don’t you protect me better? What are guardian angels good for, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.
Aurelius: you are not happy with the things that are happening to you, aren’t you? However, you are the wisest of creatures as the pythia of Delphia told you a long time ago, what more do you want?
Socrates: knowing that I don’t know anything don’t always help me in my daily life. Why do I have a guardian angel if he does nothing for me?
Aurelius: you have no idea what your life would be like if I didn’t protect you.
Socrates: here is a real sophist response, impossible to dispute. You are asking me to believe without proof because the questions I am asking you do not please you.
Aurelius: I make sure everything goes well for you, but you don’t always see it. If you had faith in me, you would know that everything is for the best.
Socrates: so when something negative happens to me, it’s positive?! I grant you that my ailments are often bearable and that in the long term, they prove sometimes beneficial but what do you say to those who lose their children? That everything is for the best for them? For their children? And what about terrorists, are they protected by their guardian angels too? That does not make sense!
Aurelius: I will answer you in two ways because your questions are multiple. First, if you know you don’t know anything like you say, why worry about your mistakes? And how do you know that these are mistakes? You have seen that what one day appears bad can turn out to be good the next. You have to trust the world and accept what is because you don’t know why what will be will be.
In addition, there is a freedom for the sinner. It is essential so that everyone can understand why it is necessary to believe in the superior value of the good. The wicked are those who have not found their guardian angel. They do not let themselves be guided by their heart. The terrorists got lost on side roads.
Socrates: the one I call my benevolent demon prevents me from making mistakes, but he leaves me free?
Aurelius: that’s what I’m telling you. To listen to him, you have to believe in him. Because demons as angels, we can only act if we have free rein in your heart, and we cannot stop the evil. Just indicate that it exists.
Socrates: would you therefore say that the victims were deaf ? You haven’t really answered me about the sacrificed children. Where were their guardian angels? And how can you claim that what happened to them will turn out to be good?
Aurelius: innocent victims are a sign that we are not infallible. This is why they will be rewarded in the hereafter.
Socrates: sacrificed sheep, right? But for what purpose?
Aurelius: a goal that goes beyond the individual while serving him/her. Each sacrifice allows a readjustment of the divine order which will ultimately benefit the greatest number. And those who die, you cannot know what their life would have been like if they had lived. You only see the moment of misfortune without guessing the greatness of the good, that is your mistake..
Socrates: it’s a difficult jump to make …
Aurelius: you should also know that there are forces that are very difficult to fight against and that I cannot protect you against everything otherwise you would be eternal and eternally happy. It is incompatible with the very essence of life on earth. What happens has a meaning even when that meaning is beyond your comprehension.
Socrates: you therefore suggest that I believe that everything is for the best even when it seems terrible.
Aurelius: yes because believing in a guardian angel is a precious help that gives you assurances that don’t exist in everyday life. That’s also how I protect you
Socrates: you are a master in rhetoric, dear Aurelius.
Aurelius: it’s mainly that we don’t speak the same language, dear Socrates!
The question “what are guardian angels good for?” examines more generally how it is possible to reconcile the existence of evil with the belief in a benevolent god.
Socrates believes in a protective demon and in the mysterious announcements of the Pythia of Delphi but he asks Aurelius how this apparent protection is compatible with the evils of everyday life and the greatest misfortunes that happen to some.
Aurelius first replies that the misfortune of one day can be the blessing of the next day because it introduces or requires changes which will prove to be positive. This is why the protection cannot be total because evils and death must have their place. However, because the world is organized in the best way, we should not only concentrate on the immediate. Moreover, this protection is impossible to prove because it avoids evils but it does not give favors. Finally, it only applies to those who want to believe it which makes the question useless.
Is the notion of good dependent on that of evil and vice versa?
If we have to believe in order to understand, can we understand without believing?
Want to think a little more? See The Confessions where St Augustine shows how divine grace is necessary to turn to good.
Want to contribute to these dialogues? Write your comments and questions below.
Want to know more about the tastes of Socrates and Emily? Their favorite books are in the domain library.