In a previous article I mentioned how the Allegory of the Cave signifies the unwillingness of people to accept the possibility that something beyond their immediate scope exists – how they rush to eliminate all rumors of an outside world, content to live within their cave’s walls, watching their shadows put on a show.
Over the years I’ve challenged many of the established, old notions, offering perspectives and solutions to problematic issues. My aim was to venture outside the walls, still do, bringing word of a world beyond the one we’re accustomed to. I do it through my writing, engaging in critical thinking, open debate, and a candid presentation of facts and opinions, a well-articulated expression of I deem central to the human condition.
Some of these perspectives aren’t pleasant or easy to deal with. They speak of a transition that involves foregoing what we’re most comfortable with. But they’re there, we can’t avoid them, if our problems are to be dealt with in a lasting manner. Solutions depend on action, not on wishful thinking.
One hot topic – if not the hottest one of all – is the state of the economy. The world is reeling in the wake of financial and economic crisis, the effects of which are felt across the globe. Society, politics, culture and religion, science and technology, lifestyle, international relations, education, research, development, the environment – all of them are affected by the crisis. Much has been said about it, much has been done, and much more hasn’t. This is the mother load of trials for our industrial, industrious world.
In our effort to make sense of things and solve our problems, we, as a culture, as a species, observe and criticize our actions and belief systems to the best of our ability. We (try to) pinpoint the errors and neutralize all faults so that we may get the mechanism back on track. In doing so we sometimes forget to address the problem’s core, engaging ourselves in groupthink i.e. in an allegory of the cave that perpetuates what is known rather than discover what lies in waiting.
We do so for a reason: we’re afraid to face facts. The truth is sometimes so frightening and disturbing, we can’t entertain it long enough to act on it.
In addition, these alternative points of view don’t always come with a happy face. There are no easy solutions. To see the world as it is, and not as we make it to be with out shadow shows on the wall, so to speak, a number of preconceptions have to go. We identify our limitations, follies, errors and ailments in all their horrifying glory. And we don’t like that. We don’t want to face them because we deem their influence ‘negative’, ‘non-constructive’, ‘self-defeating‘.
Truth be told, many of these ‘fright’ stories are exactly that, corrosive and not fit to help in any way. But a few of them are more than that. They’re diagnoses. They contain facts and truths that can’t be disregarded, such as how the current system is unsustainable, and that we need an overhaul, something that caters to the wellbeing of those who constitute this system, something that caters to the long term as well as the short term, something that doesn’t trash the environment. If the system collapses, we can’t blame it on those who challenged it, we can’t say – like the Athenians did – that it was our mistrust in the system that brought it down, glossing over its corruption and unsustainability.
Keep sweeping the facts under the rug in the name of misguided positivity, and we do ourselves a disservice. We repeat the Athenians’ blunder, not heeding the voices of reason, marching happily into ruin, all the while convincing ourselves and each other that everything will be just fine, so long as we maintain a positive attitude.
Smile-or-die attitudes don’t provide solutions to problems, or ways out of dead ends. It takes more than that…
Smile-or-die attitudes don’t provide solutions to problems, or ways out of dead ends. It takes more than that, something far more determined and substantial, such as the fortitude to consider all points of view, unsavory as some of them are. We need the courage to examine them without prejudice, straight up, and the willingness to assess them in light of the evidence, not in spite of it. Only thus do we separate reason from nonsense to implement the soundest choices available.
In the spirit of critical thinking and common sense, here’s a story from beyond the cave. Trader Alessio Rastani puts it simply and succinctly: “The government doesn’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs does”.
A statement from beyond the cave, one example of many, challenging the totems and shadows we revere.
You decide whether it’s something to swat away, laugh at, or take into consideration.
Eyes open, mind sharp.