Have you ever been told something by a friend, a professor or even a stranger that completely changed the way you see things? After which the world just didn’t seem like the same place it was before?
The greek philosopher Plato used the allegory of the cave to illustrate how we tend to be restrained by the viewpoint we have. In the allegory, Plato states that these humans were trapped in a cave their entire existence, with no life but the one they were able to see, at least from our point of view. To their naked eye, puppets and intellectual nose were the only inspiring views of the universe. One of them was set free, to be on his own, and that very opportunity proved to be a little too powerful. He attempted to go back to where he belonged but no one trusted him or even understood what he explained about the outside world .
For all of us, university is a powerful opportunity that facilitates our exposure to greater knowledge, different ideas and points of view that will help us develop our character and thinking. The question is, are we ready to use this opportunity for the greater purpose or are we going to continue complaining about how exhausting and exploitative it is?
Some of us think of university as one of the requirements to secure a stable and respectable job, which is alright, but what we should strive for whilst we are in uni is to educate ourselves to think and to speak. Knowledge is power; it is the door to different possibilities and out of the cave, but what we do with that power is what matters. What we do with what we learn is what really makes the difference in the world, and whatever we decide to take in will affect who we are building ourselves to be.
As an almost graduate in a developing country where basic education is considered a privilege, I see university as a library with infinite knowledge waiting to be learned. It is up to us, students, to seek this information, to educate ourselves and decide to become critical thinkers; we learn as much or little as we want, it is entirely up to us. Everything I need in order to become who I want to be is out there, in every class, in every teacher or student, in every extracurricular activity. It is an endless maze of opportunities to grow and become a better human being.
Sure, there’s no need to go to college to make an impact – just look at Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg; but they wouldn’t have become who they are if they had stayed home waiting for things to happen. Knowledge and experience, are the most valuable tools we need to make a change; and as such important keys to unlock doors, you have to go out there and find them. Otherwise, you’ll be left in the dark just like the rest of humans who stayed in the cave and didn’t listen to the one who escaped.
I’m not telling you that you should go to college; I am telling you to never stop learning. If you do go to university, take advantage of it, don’t let it go to waste. If you have an opportunity to educate yourself further, don’t pass it up. Don’t let your questions die in the moment, find the answers and if you don’t like the answers, find another way. The Mayans invented the solar calendar, Ancient Greece invented the watermill, and Ancient China the paper… they all continued learning in order to succeed. They did extraordinary things with what they learned; and you could be part of the generation that went beyond and changed the world of many other people who don’t have access to that kind of power.
You’re responsible for what you do with that knowledge, either you use it for your own benefit or for the greater purpose: to make this world a better place for everyone. Like someone once said, “What good is knowledge without action?”
Don’t be afraid of what you might learn, even if you don’t know what to do with it. No one ever does. Just ask yourself, do you want to live blindfolded or live ripping off other people’s blindfolds?5