Plato, a renowned philosopher was perhaps most well known for his work known as the Republic. In it, he asks his mentor, Socrates to describe a group of people who have lived their lives chained to the wall of a cave, facing nothing but a blank wall.
Socrates explains in depth that a group of people has been chained to a wall all of their lives, with the only thing in front of them being a blank wall. With the only light available for them being a fire in the background, puppeteers walk through the caves, casting shadows on the wall for the prisoners to see. Because this is the only thing they see, they perceive the shadows as real and give them names.
However, as he seemingly compares us to the prisoners in the cave, he further explains the philosopher or thinking individual, is one who is able to free themselves from the cave. By doing this, he is able to understand that the shadows on the wall are in no way his true reality and that it is merely their manufactured reality.
Sadly, many of the prisoners who are chained inside of the cave do not want to leave. It is the only life they know, which makes it much more comfortable than to leave and see the truth. But, one day, a prisoner is able to break away from their bondage and realize that everything they new to be the truth was a lie.
In turn, the prisoner would experience a form of enlightenment. Instead of being left in the dark, closed out from all of the intellectual possibilities we had been chained away from, we would emerge into a world of truth. A world of ideas. In the ending of the allegory, he explains what would happen to the prisoner who has escaped, the one who had seen the Sun, or the light. What would the other prisoners say if he tried to explain to them what he had seen? What if he told them their entire existence was nothing but a lie?
Obviously, he would be called mad.
The same applies to us. While many of us have begun to see the truth of the world and our reality and learned that the shadows on the walls, being cast by puppeteers are not real, we have been called crazy time and time again. And we still aren’t finished becoming the enlightened individuals we strive to be. We must push past the materialistic world surrounding us, and learn to know ourselves. We must love everyone and everything, and be good people, no matter the cost. If you haven’t yet escaped the cave, have no fear. Just step into the light.