Unchain yourself from ‘the cave’

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Unchain yourself from ‘the cave’

In his work entitled Allegory of the Cave, Plato said, “Human beings living in an underground cave, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the cave; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and neck chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads.”

We have made our presence in ‘the cave’ for our entire lives. Unknowingly, we were born into a world of shadows. As children, we accepted these shadows for the truth— never questioning, always believing. We put our faith into those who surrounded us. 

As we begin to venture into adulthood, this cave only grows larger. It seems as though we are breaking free from the chains that have bound us for years upon years, yet in reality, ‘the cave’ is only expanding, deceiving us into thinking that we have won. 

There is not only one cave, though. We wander in and out of caves as we wander in and out of places, people, and situations. The cave of religion. The cave of innocence. The cave of adolescence. 

When you have acquired the habit, you will see ten thousand times better than the inhabitants of the cave, and you will know what the several images are, and what they represent, because you have seen the beautiful and just and good in their truth. ”

Many people are aware of this cave that we live in. They choose to remain inside of its false warmth and compassion for fear of what lies outside. It is cold out there. It is dark. It is mean. 

Inside of the cave, however, the world becomes small. No matter its familiarity or comfort or safety, it ceases to show us the things that make the world our own. Difference of opinions. Questionable realities. These are the grievances that allow us to grow.

It is not the release from the cave that is important; it is the departure. 

To move outward from the dark, endless walls of false promises, truths, and happiness is to be able to return to those same falsities once again. If you have seen the outside, you can now have the ability to see both truths: the shadows and the objects which cause them. 

For many, ‘the cave’ is defined as something material. Highschool. Work. A sport. A religion. A belief. Although we escape from one cave only to move on to the next, this is a vital step in the growth of the human being. The awareness is what matters. When you are aware of your movement from cave to cave, the nature of the movement shifts from ignorant to purposeful. 

“When you have acquired the habit, you will see ten thousand times better than the inhabitants of the cave, and you will know what the several images are, and what they represent, because you have seen the beautiful and just and good in their truth.” 

This was written before the time of technology and social media and the culture of instantaneous fake news, yet it remains applicable even today. The modern prisoner must learn to discern the good from the evil, the shadows from the images. To do this is to escape from the caves that engulf you. You are only able to see the truth when you enable yourself to view multiple perspectives. 

It is not about plotting the escape; it’s about seeing beyond the shadows flickering across the cave walls even as you remain within their confines. 

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