Human nature appears to be the same no matter where or when one lives. Some people claim that humans living today are more “enlightened” than those who lived in past ages. Others disagree and give examples to prove their point. One such person is Earick Ward who posted an article titled “Plato’s Cave and Our Current Reality” at American Thinker. http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/11/platos_cave_and_our_current_reality.html
I was immediately drawn to Ward’s article because I recently studied Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave in my humanities class. A short summary of the allegory is as follows.
In the allegory Plato has Socrates describing a group of people who have lived all their lives in a cave. The people are born in the cave and are kept as prisoners in the cave. They are chained to a wall and can see only the blank wall in front of them. Behind the prisoners there is a passageway where people walk back and forth carrying various items. On the far side of the passageway is a fire that causes shadows of the passing people to be projected upon the wall in front of the prisoners. The prisoners assign names to the various shadow objects. The shadows on the wall are the prisoners’ reality. They know nothing about the real world and have no desire to leave the cave.
The allegory continues by Socrates explaining what would happen if a prisoner broke free and fled the cave. The first thing he would notice is the brightness of the fire, which might partially blind him. As he made his way to the front of the cave, the increasing sunshine would further hurt his eyes. He may be tempted to return to his chains.
If the prisoner made it to the outside world and recovered from the blindness, he would see a whole new world and realize that it is better than the cave. He might wish to return to the cave in an effort to help his fellow prisoners to escape. However, his eyes would have difficulty returning from the brightness of the sun to the blackness of the cave, causing him to stumble. The prisoners still in chains would see his stumbling and believe that his blindness was caused by his escape. Having no wish to become blind, they would gladly stay in their chains.
Ward compares Plato’s allegory to the biblical story of the Israelites who preferred to die in Egypt where they had “pots of meat” to eat rather than to starve to death in the desert. (See Exodus 16:3 and Numbers 14:4.) He also compares the allegory to Nazi Germany where Goebbels said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it…” Ward claims that the same thing is happening in America today.
What we see playing out in America, and throughout the world, is two starkly different worldviews: Freedom and the State (bondage). Of course, bondage isn’t being sold as such. It’s being sold as “free stuff” and “safety and security” from the ravages of hatred. Who doesn’t want free stuff and safety and security? Of course, reason informs us that there is no such thing as free stuff, and that safety and security for some, demands that freedom for others must be infringed upon and/or suppressed…
Let us appoint a new leader and return to Egypt (or the cave). In the end, the people (the mob) will accept the comfort of lies (bondage), over the reality of truth (freedom). Our efforts to free our fellow captors are being met with fear and anger. As Plato suggests, they will fight to the death, to maintain their belief that what they’re seeing on the cave wall is true.
What do you think? Does Ward have a point? Are the people today much like the people in the day of Plato or the Israelites or the Germans? I think so!