- Written by Luigino Bruni
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Narrative Capitals/10 - The challenge to prevent the transformation of the ideal into ideology
by Luigino Bruni
published in Avvenire on 14/01/2018
“And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners (the people bound inside the cave) are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light... ...do you think that he would care for such honours and glories, or envy the possessors of them (among the prisoners - the tr.)? ...I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner. ...would he not be ridiculous? ...and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.”
Plato The Republic (English translation by Benjamin Jowett)
It is typical of ideological thinking - of every ideology but above all those of a religious nature - to create a dichotomic or gnostic type of representation of the world. Happiness, beauty, truth, and the special light of those who are inside that experience are exalted, and the ordinary happiness and beauty of those who are outside are devalued. Friendship, work, play, art and everyone's life are not enough anymore. There is a need to load these realities with additional, extraordinary and diverse meanings. And soon we end up no longer being able to rejoice in seeing a "friend and nothing more", of "just working and nothing more", of "just praying and that’s all", of "just painting and that’s all". We begin to believe that simple life is not enough to live. And while we are convinced that we live more than others, we risk ceasing to really live.