Return to the Cave, But Don’t Be Surprised If They Hate You When You Do

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In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, he ponders the experience of a bunch of people trapped in a cave, living in the dark, believing that shadows cast on the cave wal to be absolute truth.

It is his attempt to explore “the effect of education and the lack of it on our nature.”

During the story, a cave dweller breaks free from the cave & learns the truth of his former existence. It’s symbolic of self-realization, awareness, and transcendence (link to symbolism below) — similar to the hero’s journey.

Like the hero’s journey, the person who breaks free from the norm returns to his former life. In the hero’s journey, it is so that he or she can bring their newly-realized higher self to improve their former world.

A similar path is taken in the Allegory

Plato offers the idea that the freed prisoner would think that the world outside the cave was superior to the world he experienced in the cave; “he would bless himself for the change, and pity [the other prisoners]” and would (caring for his original people) want to bring his fellow cave dwellers out of the cave and into the sunlight.

The returning prisoner, whose eyes have become accustomed to the sunlight, would be blind when he re-enters the cave, just as he was when he was first exposed to the sun. The prisoners, according to Plato, would infer from the returning man’s blindness that the journey out of the cave had harmed him and that they should not undertake a similar journey.

They would probably be unimpressed by the one who had broken free — his adaptation to the reality outside theirs would make his unaccustomed to their environment, clumsy or unable to see, and otherwise Not-Awesome in their limited opinions.

Socrates, the story’s narrator, concludes that the prisoners, if they were able, would attempt to kill anyone who attempted to drag them out of the cave. Surely they reject the unfamiliar and resist it with all their might.

Haven’t you run up against that?

I DEFINITELY HAVE. Hello, having an actual education in the subject of government that I went to school and studied and love intellectually… and being screamed at for passing along a viewpoint that I hoped would help people not be upset, yet having it backfire because my INFORMED INSTRUCTION didn’t support UNINFORMED-BUT-CLOSELY-HELD ^opinions^ and preconceived notions.

[Sure, everyone is entitled to their opinion… but we can’t keep pretending they’re all worth the same.]

But what about when you want to talk something spiritual, but nobody hears you because you didn’t use the words they know and/or want to hear?

What about the times you have something happen, and nobody listens, sees, or understands because it’s not labeled the way they want, or isn’t their exact experience? What happens when it makes them dehumanize folks?

What about when you take a stand for something that doesn’t look the way the majority is ready to see? What about when they miss that the substance is valuable or desirable?

So, what does it all mean?.