The Cave

To find every prior thought you had suddenly unenlightened, and then twice over as your focus develops, is a rare and fascinating experience. It means letting go of the people you previously viewed as equals. It’s a sudden disownment of your prior self, and a view that you’ve overcome your basic ways. To then be murdered for appearing as stupid to the folk you left behind is predictable. Explaining your newfound illumination, and trying to spread it, can appear as absolutely demeaning to the listener’s entire experience in life. This is why preaching either religion or science that conflicts with someone’s established beliefs is heat-provoking. It’s why non-binary gender is so difficult for the general population to grasp, and why the study of privilege is mocked by those that don’t, “check themselves”.

Enlightenment is not necessarily good. You can certainly believe you’ve reached a new level, with the motive behind that teaching based in an oppressive or exploitative hierarchy. Of course, all enlightenment is through manipulation to some degree. Some forms promote racism, sexism, etc., and some bring forth a new diversity of knowledge and background. Either way, one can be snooty about it. Seeing on a whole new level is a visceral experience. It’s elevating. I’ve felt it after finally comprehending and gaining a complete and confident political ideology, and lost it when hitting a roadblock of knowledge that others sharing my identity seem to grasp. Going backwards in enlightenment is in a way it’s own enlightenment. You realize your prior feelings of “knowing it” were invalid, even if you’re now less confident about belief than before. Relationships can go from a honeymoon phase of easily seeing each other married with kids, stepping out of the cave of singleness, to feeling unsure about the future now that you’re facing it, stepping out of the cave of naive certainty. Of course, your partner may not have stepped out of the same cage, and your sun of uncertainty may make you worse off than the shadows of your former commitment to one life path. Like the murder from the allegory, expressing this sun could easily be the end of a relationship.

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