Ideas keep my up at night. Throughout the course of the past weeks, I have neglected to write; I have been occupied, I was fascinated to a point where I became ineffable. I am breaking free from this paradigm that once harpooned me because there is something that needs to be said. In the book, The Republic, written by Plato, performed by Socrates, are many timeless truths that need to be heard. In book VII, Plato offers us an allegory that couldn’t be more pertinent today for our society as a whole.
The Republic, Book VII’s Story
I will set the scene for you, in simplistic terms – four prisoners are left facing a wall in a cave. They were born here and may very well die here; they face the black wall of the cave, but behind them is a fire that illuminates their shadows in front of them. Now everyday, people hold up sculptures of animals and people as to give the illusion of “real” things going by behind the fire. The prisoners are chained up so that they cannot move. They see their own shadows and the shadows of others, but they do not know exactly what those black figures represent.
One day someone frees one of the prisoners, he feebly gets on his feet, and then begins to turn around and he then sees for the first time the fire behind him. He rubs his eyes repeatedly, trying to adjust to the new phenomenon.
His eyes rustle and try to make sense of it all. After becoming more adjusted, he is lead to go outside, to walk the steps that will lead to life. He reaches the top steps and he cannot imagine what this extreme light is – for he has never seen such an environment. What he sees, he cannot have imagined, the beauty of life is too profound for his nascent senses.
He was seeing through narrows prisms of partial truths, an illusion that was made his reality. His whole life has been nothing but a farce – the only truth he has ever known was now a lie. He had much exploring and learning to do, fascinated with everything and anything.
Are not truths no more than mere opinions persuaded pervasively as to become seemingly perpetual and stagnant? – Nicholas Piva
He decided, after many days to go back into the cave and tell his fellow prisoners about what he had seen. He began to speak and they laughed and thought he was a madman.
They see only one side of the myriad perspectives and are too enclosed in their paradigm to see the light in others. They were grown into this standard of what life is about and any deviation of what they thought was folly in their eyes. But to the enlightened, his past truths are now follies, while the chained remain stationary in thought. This man, who is now liberated by the mind’s fabrication will go up and explore what the others don’t even realize is there.
The others will remain stagnantly arrogant, believing in truths that are in actuality only opinions masqueraded as veracity by their collective thought.
Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.
I hope my words have resonated with you. There is madness in its simplicity. I fear that what the great philosopher’s were talking about back then is apparent today. Now I will preface that this is only my interpretation of this allegory; there may be others out there.
Our multitude of technologies should have allowed us to garner more eccentric information, but instead it is a medium to continuously see the mainstream.
People are trapped by dogma; they fear to venture out and charter their own path, they relish folly only because they are too scared to create anew.
Human beings like to belong. Even if the community goes against their intuition, they will follow. That is, except for the mavericks – the one’s who escape the rat race and provide a life for themselves they find worthy to their calling. I fear that we all see only one side of the spectrum – go to school, get good grades, a job, a pension and then die. Only two people I know have profound dreams. And for those who sporadicly have those type of dreams, they usually whither and die by the uniformity that our world calls for.
We have all been brought up within a certain reality, or a way in which things are supposed to happen – society hammers down, along with your parents and friends a certain path. They proclaim deviation will lead to failure and failure is not in the book for success. But what happens if their failure is another’s success, vice-versa? The many dichotomies of viewpoints are innumerable, and too many forget this.
Instead of obsequiously listening and adhering to dogma, one should venture out and create his/her own path. This world may promulgate the “right way”, but as we can tell from history and the ideas of the “greats”, there is no correct way; all of them have disparate ideas and philosophies to live by in order to be righteous. So do yourself a favor, live by your own accord and don’t be upset if those around you fail to see the light of your thought.
Those who are able to see beyond the shadows and lies of their culture will never be understood, let alone believed, by the masses. – Plato
Program your mind in such a way so that you are open and not the least bit arrogant. Understand life for what it really is – a chance to be, to create, to do, to experience and to love. It will inevitably be difficult to charter your own path, but with persistence, excellent things are bound to happen.