Albert Einstein once said, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Albert Einstein didn’t exactly have a sane reputation, but wouldn’t that allow him to have a more interesting point of view? His quote on reality, for example, is one that not a lot of people would agree or even understand. How could our reality be seen in any other way, than the way we see it? The answer to this could be found in Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” and Horace Miner’s “Body Ritual among Nacirema.” In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” he describes a philosophical conversation between Socrates and Glaucon regarding reality. Socrates uses an extended metaphor, describing prisoners who have been held in a cave all their life, and there they are forced to face a wall where all they can see are shadows of objects. This becomes their reality until one prisoner is released, and is able to see the light, able to open his mind to a whole new branch of knowledge that none of the other prisoners could even begin to understand. This prisoner suffers from his knowledge and becomes an outcast. Miner’s, “Body Ritual among Nacirema,” had many underlying messages concerning our perspective of reality. This anthropology report illustrates a primitive society, where the people do many unusual and horrific things, like woman sticking their heads in the oven, and a person who uses probes and other sharp materials to ‘‘fix you.’’ It was until after I’ve read the story that I realized that Nacirema is America spelled backwards.
This entire report was describing the American culture, and how our everyday activities can be seen in a very different way. “Allegory and the Cave,” and “Body Ritual among Nacirema,” both emphasize the illusion of reality, and why we accept the illusion. Why do we accept the illusion, you ask? It is because of fear: the feeling of danger or threat. Most people, like the prisoners from the “Allegory of the Cave,” have been sheltered their whole life, forced to believe in something that might not even be there. When one person who has seen the light, stands up, he will forever be an outcast. Why do we outcast the one person who has seen the light? Is it because his perspective of reality is different from ours? Or is it just our natural fear to accept something that’s real, even if it goes against everything that we’ve been taught? If that is the reason, then we cannot blame human beings for their natural tendency to be ignorant, because after all, ignorance is bliss. After reading “Body Ritual among Nacirema,” you would be able to see how perspective plays a prominent role in accepting reality. People can always alter their reality with perception. They may not know it, but the way we look at things can be very powerful. That’s why we should all try to look at things differently; stand out from the crowd. Ignorance may be blissful, but knowledge is power. Einstein knew it, and with his knowledge he changed the world.