Get out of your cave

By Cavan Burns | Reporter

The ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, in his work, the “Republic,” wrote what we now call the “Allegory of the Cave.” While this was written over a thousand years ago, there is a reason why it is still talked about today.

This allegory can be interpreted to mean a variety of things, but at the core of the story, individuals believe everything that is given to them in the cave. However, when one individual leaves, they are exposed to the light of the sun — or what is perceived to be the “Good.” The same individual tries to go back and tell those in the cave, but they prefer to remain inside.

This idea that the allegory lays out has led me to seek out possibilities or options different from those that are presented to me. Especially in college, when you are free to do things on your own, you can dictate what you are exposed to — in terms of education, experience and more. At the same time, due to the allegory and my own experience, I recognize that it can be difficult to leave your cave.

Even if one spends all their time outside, they cannot look directly at the sun forever. Now, imagine, within the allegory, if you were to be in a cave for your whole life. Your eyes would take some time to become adjusted prior to even looking at your surroundings. Similarly, it can be difficult to step outside everything that you are used to or everything that you know. I am not saying that you need to burn all your bridges and go out into the unknown. Just experience different things or hear different perspectives sometimes.

A popular American author, Neale Donald Walsch, said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” One area in which I encourage individuals to get out of their cave is their church. Oftentimes, our religious community acts as a support system, especially for those away from their families. However, while we can foster an emotional connection to these places, they would or should recognize they are an imperfect institution because they are made up of imperfect individuals.

Continuing with the cave, think of all the things that you can be introduced to by stepping outside. You can explore things that you did not even know existed. However, you can also encounter things that are different from how you typically understand them. Say, in the cave, you saw only the shadows of things; you thought the shadows were the real thing until you go outside. While it can be upsetting to have things change so quickly, you can find so many great things and perspectives that you never thought were a possibility.

This imperfection is something that allows for us to never settle, in hopes of attaining ultimate perfection. However, there can be many answers to the same question. Especially in an area of your life where you draw meaning and support, it would be ignorant to assume one way is the only way to go about the path to the solution. Moreover, if we are all answering the same question, why would we not help, visit and support others in the journey?

Respectfully, get out of your cave, touch some grass and try a different church.