Throughout history, they way humans perceive an assortment of different topics is greatly influenced by what we hear and see rather than what it actually is. Similar to Platos, Allegory of the Cave, where a group of prisoners had been locked up in a cavern since their childhood with no knowledge of the outside. The prisoners had their necks and legs chained up while facing a wall unable to turn their heads while a fire behind then gave a faint light. Occasionally people would pass by carrying figures of animals and other objects that cast shadows on the wall. The prisoners believed, “The truth would be literally nothing but shadows on the wall” (583). One prisoner became free and found his way outside where he was made aware things around him were real and the shadows on the wall were nothing but reflections. After hearing this the prisoner returned to the cave to share his journey, but grew accustomed to the light and was no longer used to the dark and had a hard time seeing the shadows on the wall. The other prisoners thought the journey had made him blind and ridiculous and viciously resistant any attempts to free them. This allegory extends beyond Plato’s time, into current society with regards to religious, educational, and political beliefs.
Religion is significantly influenced by the shadows that have been projected onto us. Some religions we follow do not have any specific basis, but is just something we have been influenced by our whole life. The cave can relate to religion because many religious individuals are taken unwillingly at such a young age with no knowledge of anything else and because people seem so genuine, they start to see these beliefs as nothing but the truth and only focus on that because it’s all they have ever been exposed to. This makes it difficult to have an open mind on other perspectives furthermore becoming ignorant of many other cultures, religions and even lifestyles such as homosexuality. An example can include the Westboro Baptist Church, a group of individuals including young children that consider themselves Christsians. This group pickets LGBTQ purades and functions with signs reading, “God hates Fags” and “Fags are beasts”. Because this is what they were taught to be right their whole lives they believe they are saving people from their sins with these signs. The Westboro Baptist Church and many other people are content with their beliefs and tend to become hostile towards anyone who has other ideas or beliefs that they do not agree with. When the society has only been exposed to limited perspectives, it makes it challenging to accept new approaches from different lifestyles, religions or cultural backgrounds.
Societies views on political leaders is significantly influenced by the shadows projected to us by the mainstream news outlets much like the shadows projected in the cave. Mainstream media such as CNN, FOX,NBC etc. use effective strategies to influence individual’s ideology because they only provide one sided opinions regarding certain subjects and topics resulting in many individuals perceiving this to be the truth. In addition, mainstream media has significantly impacted voting with their own views of each candidate. The media does this by intentionally only broadcasting stories that benefit that specific media company. An example of this is shown in Jim Myers article, The 10 biggest media lies about Donald Trump, where he talks about the media stating that Donald Trump said, “All Mexicans are rapist”. Another example is when CNN reported in June of 2017 that Trump’s former advisor was under investigation by congress for his alleged ties to Russia. Although CNN later apologized for the fabricated story we are typically quick to believe their words and are to ignorant to do our own research to determine the accuracy of the information. A way to improve one’s self is searching further than just shadows projected to us. Additionally this will also help us understand the media’s functions and the lies behind it.
Lastly, the prisoners in the Allegory of the cave symbolizes students who are ignorant towards the knowledge handed to them by teachers. Students tend to accept the “facts” given to them without following up with research of their own, resulting in students accepting all of this knowledge to be nothing but the truth. Additionally, for years education has been portrayed to be a necessary aspect in regards to the successfulness of individuals. This makes the younger students pressured to go to college and get an education in the belief that they will only succeed in life with one. We start to believe this because its been drilled into our heads from such a young age and we start to look at anyone without an education to be unsuccessful. This keeps us close minded about career choices without a college degree. Instead we should be asking ourselves if they are happy with their path in life and if their careers bring them joy then we should help embrace that.
Plato’s Allegory of the cave portrays the society we live in today. It symbolizes how individuals are greatly influenced by religious, political and educational beliefs. Religion keeps individuals unable to dive deeper into other religions, lifestyles, or cultural backgrounds. The mainstream media who influences political views to their political advantage, and students who rely on education to succeed in life. It is important to bring light to the freedoms the individuals in today’s society have. Society needs to learn how to dive deeper into topics with an open mind when learning the world around them rather than believing only what they hear and see as the truth. This will help rebuild a more enlightened community.