Plato’s cave: a beautiful and well-known metaphor about how we perceive life and truth
Also kind of terrifying. Seriously, was I the only one in class thinking “Why are these people chained?? They have been chained since they were born??? THEY CANT MOVE??!?? What the actual h*ck is going on in this cave? Who put them there??”
Needless to say, this cave messed me up for a little while.
But the point of this post is not to talk about my mental scarring (we’d be here for years if that was the case) but to make a connection between me, my life, and this sadistic cave.
When looking at the people in the cave, it’s easy to wonder: why don’t the people chained in the cave try to leave? Why don’t they struggle, break free of the chains and explore? The thing is, we need a prologue. Plato’s Cave: The Early Years. If the people in the cave had been there their whole lives, they have no reason to un-chain themselves. They see nothing wrong with it. They don’t see the chains as anything more than a part of life. At the risk of sounding horribly, horribly cliche, these chains symbolize the shackles or society and how we must break through in order to move forward.
I think I threw up in my mouth a little by saying that.
But anyway, onto a fun lil metaphor to connect this whole post, my title, and add in some fun images for the visual learners out there.
When Mr. Jackson, asked up to find a time when we were “in the cave”, the only real thing I could think was “BEING GAY” That might just be my brain, but I decided to run with it.
I was in the cave (or the closet) until grade 8. It took me realizing I was not striahgt for me to start seeing “the sun” about lgbtq issues. I’d heard gay being thrown around as an insult. I’d seen my grandparents turn their lips at pride flags and heard my priest warn about the dangers of same sex marriage. That had all passed over my head until I started stepping into the light and actually hearing everything they were saying. While I now know so, so much more about issues and subjects surrounding lgbtq, I’ve realized that certain people I know are still locked in the chains of the cave, and always will be. I’ve likened the man in plato’s cave being unable tos ee well in teh dark and getting mocked for it to me, not finding gay sterotypes funny and getting mocked for it. Maybe I’m just being self centered and trying to make it about me. Who knows??
To finish it off, I have another lil fun metaphor to tie both of these together. Imagine you are in a car. As a child, you sit in the backseat, oblivious to the cars around you. You watch them go by, watch you parents stop at lights and signs, but ultimatly don’t concern yourself with the actions on the road around you. But then you grow up. You start learning how to drive, learning the rules, learning the limits. Now, as you sit in the front seat, you see everyone breaking the rules, speeding, cutting people off. You never noticed it as a child, but now you can’t go back to not noticing. You’re aware. You’ve learned.
This is kinda like being lgbtq. Once you have see what homophobia or transphobia can do, once you’ve learned what’s hurtful and why, you can’t go back to not noticing. Same with Plato’s cave: when you see the sun, theres no going back to the dark.