2018 – National High School 4th Place
Erica Marciante, New York.
Throughout history, we have always struggled to find truth. Whether it concerns the government, religious beliefs, or the moral alignment of people, philosophers have remained on a quest to find it. With this in mind, one may ask if either truth or deceit has a greater impact on society. However, the answer to this does not prove simple, as it is up to the society itself to determine which will prosper.
Possibly one of the most well known philosophers, Socrates, explained this to one of his students, Glaucon, in Allegory of the Cave. In Socrates’ telling of this story, he described a cave filled with chained prisoners that cannot leave. These prisoners only know what their captors have presented to them—nothing more than shadows of images. However, when they liberated one of the prisoners, he is exposed to the world and its environment, which symbolized reality. At first, the truth repels him, nonetheless he continues to discover it. Eventually, he becomes accustomed to the truth and it no longer frightens him. Unfortunately, when he goes back to the cave to free the other prisoners, they want no part in discovering the truth. They desire only to live the life they have always known, and even though he informs them of its deceit, the restraint of ignorance still holds them back.
The power of truth depends fully on the people of society. If advocates for truth, like the escaped prisoner, filled our society, then truth would certainly triumph over any form of deceit. However, if people like the chained prisoners dominated our society, and are too frightened to discover the truth, then deceit will continue to blind us.
In today’s society which often celebrates the media’s fake news, it proves more important than ever to willfully search for truth. One cannot simply just read an article or watch a video and accept it as fact anymore, as some media’s bias or even utter lies change the story. As much as it remains the media’s job to accurately explain an event, the viewers still have a duty to be active listeners and ask questions. Even if some parts of the media fail to do their job, it does not mean that the viewers can stop doing theirs. In fact, this signifies the viewers’ purpost of finding truth, as everyone deserves to know it.
Ultimately, the power of both truth and deceit depends fully on the society in question. One does not always prevail over the other, they conflict with each other until society decides which to believe. Although it may prove easier to trust the lies, as they often make people feel more at ease, we cannot take this path simply because we fear the other. In the words of Edward Abbey, “Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.”
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