Unwillingly, in spite of himself, the chief justice had to give him the death sentence, death by poison.
Do you think Socrates was not intelligent? Alternatives were offered: He could have moved out of Athens – but truth knows no compromise. He could have stopped teaching, he was already very old. But when you are pregnant with truth, you cannot stop teaching. You have to say it to those who are blind, who are deaf, and who are living in all kinds of lies.
He preferred to die. He said to the chief justice, “Remember, I am choosing death in favor of truth. And because of this death, whatever I have been teaching will remain for centuries. Even the names of your judges, and you, will be forgotten. Nobody will know this crowd who is shouting to kill me, but my death will make it a guarantee that even after my death, my words will go on improving human consciousness.”
But the people who are living in lies will always say the same thing, “Morality is in danger, religion is in danger, culture is in danger. Particularly, the minds of the youth are being corrupted.”
These are the charges against me too – exactly the same, worded almost the same. And I was amazed that after twenty-five centuries, I was deported from Greece for the same reasons for which Socrates was poisoned. They could not kill me because I was just a tourist. I was not a citizen. I had not committed any crime there, and I had not even moved out of the house where I was living.
But the archbishop of the Orthodox Christian church of Greece, which is the oldest church in the world, threatened the government, and he threatened the owner of my house, my host, saying, “If he is not moved immediately out of Athens, I am going to dynamite the house and kill him and the twenty-five people who are staying with him.”
I could not believe that in twenty-five centuries nothing has changed – he listed the same crimes. He was giving telegrams to the president, to the prime minister, saying, “This man’s presence is going to destroy our tradition, our religion, our culture. And this man is corrupting the minds of our youth.” And I had been there only for fifteen days, just on a tourist visa for four weeks. Two weeks had passed and they had no reason to deport me.
But the old mind is still there. When I was arrested and brought to Athens from the small island where I was staying, the chief of the police was there with forty police officers to welcome me. I said, “In the middle of the night, there is no need for forty police-officers with loaded guns. I am not a violent man, I don’t have even a pistol, and I am under arrest. Why have you gathered this crowd?”