EPISODE XVIII - YOUR IDENTITY AND THE SHADOWS OF THE CAVE
Many of you write to me describing various experiences you have had with other people. You categorize and label them as "good," "bad," or "ugly." I feel that this is a dangerous illusion. There are no good, bad or ugly people, there are only "different people," as there are different animals, places to go to and things to do. Let me explain:
How you "perceive," the world, your reality, has a lot to do on how and by whom, you have been brought up to see the world:
Initial beliefs are instilled in you, by those who have cared for you, initially to help you cope with your surroundings. You sense the world around you, "through the glasses you have been given to wear." That may not be a bad thing-in-itself, because those responsible for your care, have been trying to protect you from "adult issues." With time, your curiosity will sooner or later, lead you into "adult issues." Without the proper preparation to deal with such issues, others will prey upon on your innocence, and exploit you. Let me "sight" a few examples:
Most of you by now, know about Ancient Sparta, the land of great warriors. The land of "all for one and one for all"; the land of the three hundred warriors. In that society, "if you stole something, and you were caught, you would be punished."
Most of you by now know about Ancient Athens, the land of the thinkers, philosophers, and the establishment of Democracy. In that society, "if you stole something, and you were caught, you would be punished."
You might be asking by now so, what in the riddle, what is the point here? If you lived in the Spartan reality, or you live in a society that has the "Spartan value system," you would be punished for stealing; but "not" because you stole something. You would be punished for having been caught stealing!
You see, in ancient Sparta, you were trained to survive in enemy territory and how to steal to survive. Being caught doing so was a punishment because it meant you had not learned how to survive. In ancient Athens, stealing meant you denied others their property. You were not a responsible citizen and not a person who would be part of a constructive and healthy Democracy.
If you moved from the Spartan' society to live in the Athenian culture and vice-versa, you would have serious difficulties surviving. You would see the world through "the glasses you were given," in each society. When you become a "self-actualized" person, and you can see the world through, "The Light," you can survive and prosper in any society in any realm of existence.
When the "white man," came to North America, he discovered some "savages" who stole their possessions, taking things without asking, they were no good "thieves." In turn, the natives thought that those "palefaces," were barbaric individuals; they hoarded things and did no share. In his reality, the "white man" was taught about the value of property, and that he should fight to protect it. The "natives" were taught to share, there was little personal property. When the two communities met, they collided; each "labeling" the other, savage or a barbarian.
How you perceive the world and how you interpret the actions of people around you is very important. This is not a simple concept, which can be classified as being good, bad, or ugly. As the great philosopher, Socrates has taught us; learn from experience; staying alert, questioning "your reality," is the healthiest and most rewarding part of understanding, "who you are." Earning your name and reaching a stage of "Self-actualization" or "Eudaimonia," as I pointed out in my earlier EPISODE XVI - NEEDS, WANTS, AND DEMANDS, is the end goal.
The Death of Socrates
When you label the world around you as "good," "bad," or "ugly," you are not showing understanding. You are merely seeking assurances from others like your friends; your "adopted family" of your teenaged years (Age of Rage). Guarantees that they too belong to your group, the group of the "white swans"; the group that discriminates against others for no other reason than that they are somewhat different. In turn, others "label" you, according to what their group identifies as your "group colors" or mentality. That is how you now belong to "the group" to determine who you are. When that happens, you surrender your identity, you lose your name, you are no longer a free person. You will "not" reach the top of the pyramid, there will be no "self-actualization!
What I have described is not an easy concept for you to understand. "In time," with "life experiences," guided by "the guidepost," in the path of your reality, you will gain wisdom. With each morsel of such wisdom, you will develop into a beautiful being, deserving of a place in the Elysian Fields. Let me cite another example that will help you in this understanding of "interpreting" your reality.
Let's us turn to another great Hellenic Philosopher, Plato and the Allegory of the Cave:
Please view this video, Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Before you do, please consult with your parents or caregivers because this video contains some coarse language, which may not be appropriate for you. Better still, a healthy discussion, with your parents or caregivers, might come about after watching this video on the same subject PLATO - Allegory of the Cave Animated.
As I have said earlier, what has just been described to you maybe concepts very difficult for you to understand. Such thoughts are not age-dependent; instead, they are a function of maturity and growth in one's reality. The fact that you are thirteen or fourteen, older or younger, does not mean you are not able to understand and appreciate such concepts. In fact, some adults go through their daily lives, living in "the caves of their reality" and never having reached "the age of maturity" to think for themselves. That is the main reason we have many of the world issues that cause difficulties in our lives. Such people just follow the crowd, hidden in the dark caves of their reality, doing and saying, labeling others, based on the shadows of what others want them to see.
So my young friends, where are we on the path of seeking out who we are and earning our name? I think, the first thing you need to do in your growth, is to question any "label" you place on others as being "good," "bad," or "ugly." Replace these three categories with the word "different." This will allow you to see others, "in the light" and see them for who they are, based on your intuitive reality. Going back to EPISODE XIV - THE AGE OF RAGE AND THE BUTTERFLY, I speak of a,
" critical time of your transition, do not allow yourself (Your rage), to take the better of you and you are eaten up by those who prey upon your innocence."
further on I go on to say,
"Don't let people pull you into their storm, like Phaethon's friend's (Rage). Pull them into your peace."
The Internet is a great tool that we have created. It allows anyone with computer access to an abundance of ideas, concepts, knowledge, and human interaction, but like all tools, you must learn to use this tool carefully and wisely. There are several "illusions" out there, claiming to be guideposts to your growth and guiding you to the path of the Elysian Fields. Be careful, they are merely meant to divert you from your path. They are "smoke and mirrors" created by those who seek to take advantage of your innocence and place you in harm's way; so how would you know the difference?
If you are of adolescence age, in your teens, by now, you have managed to survive at least 1/10 of your natural lifetime. During these years, you have been able to absorb and learn many of the norms of your society. By now, those who have been responsible for your care, your parents, caregivers, teachers, and "wise men/women," slowly have been guiding you, helping you grow. Most importantly, you have within you "The Light" to know: You need to trust your instincts - you have the "essence" to know. You have a built-in compass. As mentioned in the previous EPISODE XVI - NEEDS, WANTS, AND DEMANDS, in the video "The Push," trust in your "innate wisdom," and you will be ready to take flight.
I will end here by quoting some passages from Desiderata:
"As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always, there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself."
"Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”
"With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world."
Be careful. Strive to be happy - Eudaimonia.
Here is a way to "see," the world and others too through your eyes.
Here is another:
By Elias Leousis,
(Η αγάπη είναι το μελάνι, η σοφία είναι το μήνυμα.)
Love is the ink; wisdom is the message!
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