Sunday, 13 July 2014

Lessons we can learn from Greece

In these times of cynicism about the state of worldwide democracy, one thing we can look to is the country who invented it - Greece. Many of the concepts that were introduced by the Greeks are still highly relevant today.

One such concept is Plato's allegory of the cave. Plato describes a cave where there are prisoners sitting in the dark, facing the flat wall of the cave. Puppet masters with a fire stand behind them, casting a great shadow show against the wall. 

At first they may have been chained there, but after a while, they gladly accept the shadows as reality. Even the person who is casting the shadows may believe what they are doing is right, and that the shadows they create are real - hence, they are all in this delusional cave.

One or two prisoners may question the show, and discover diffused sunlight at the back of the cave, and begin their ascent to true reality until they see the sun, feel it's warmth upon their bodies and all the wonders that reality truly holds. Those who learn the truth may then return to tell the prisoners about what lies outside the cave. But the prisoners and the puppet masters will most likely call them crazy.

This allegory works on many levels. For many, the journey of the escapees describes a philosophical or a scientific search for truth. But for me, it is the cave that is fascinating, for it could also describe our modern consumer society; the aggressive manipulation of language and concepts to manufacture consent; our culture of high entropy fear motivation; our amplified and distorted survival instincts; the media, it's propaganda machine and even the corporations, governments and religions that are the highest stakeholders in keeping their prisoners (us) in this state of altered reality.

The allegory of the cave is a call for everyone to examine their conscious world and reject the artifice that is everywhere.