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The Allegory of the Statesman
There are those who see the light and never turn back to help the others, and there are those who are much too afraid of the light. Then there are those who find the light, and then dive back into the darkness to save the world. ~The Preacher
At first there were colors. But those were soon replaced by gray and black, and the colors became a memory, a memory quickly forgotten. If he strained hard enough, he could remember...something...a thing...in the sky...the sky? Words and pictures that had no meaning assaulted his mind, and to save himself, to preserve his sanity, he shut them out, forgot them. Soon all he was to know was the darkness of the cave, the place were he was, the place that fed him, kept him bound to life, bound by chains, forced to look at the wall of moving shapes.
Slowly, ever so slowly, he seemed to awaken from a stupor. He was well. He was fed. He tried to adjust his position and get a better look around him, but he couldn't. He noticed a moving shape grow larger, melt into lines, and then he saw a person.
“Careful now, don't want to hurt yourself do you?” the person said.
“What are these things that keep me from moving?”
“They are called shackles.”
“To keep you safe.”
“Yes, from the...well, just safe.”
“Who am I?”
“We call you DRC.”
“Darcy?” He liked the sound of that.
“Haha, yeah, I guess you could say that too.”
“Who are you?”
“My name is Jeff.”
“Why are you not...sha...shuck...”
“Shackled?” A chuckle, “I need to take care of you, make sure you're protected, washed and fed, make sure you're still alive.”
“What are those things?” Darcy looked at the moving shapes.
“Those are very dangerous. Keep your eye on them.”
“All you need to know is that there are people who are not as kind as we are. We are safe here, just do what we say. And we say eat this.”
Something was forced into Darcy's mouth, and he swallowed it down. Very quickly there was more gray, and then all was black again.
He saw things in his head. Things he didn't want to see. The things kept chasing him, forcing him to look, to see, to know, but he wouldn't, he couldn't...or could he?
He jerked awake, eyes snapping open, the moving shapes still there, but he could hear others, all around. He looked, but could only see two others on either side of him. One was asleep, but the one awake looked frightened, with a wide eyed, frantic expression on his face. Darcy decided to talk to him.
“I am Darcy. Who are you?”
“What are you called? What is your...na...name?”
“I...don't know. Why should I be called anything?”
“Are they? Well, what can I be called?”
“I will call you...” A faint sound inside his head, a feeling, and then words came out of his mouth, “Bob.”
“Bob? What is a Bob?”
“I...don't know....” Darcy was worried something from his head had gotten out. But if this was what was inside his head, why was it so bad? “You are a Bob.”
“Okay. Bob.” Bob tried out his new name. “I think I like it...”
“Who's there!” Someone yelled, and Bob yelped.
Darcy looked to the other side of him. There was the sleeper, now awake.
“Who are you?”
“I am Darcy, who are you?”
Just then Jeff came into view. “I am here to feed and wash you.” he said.
The sleeper looked defiant, but he could feel the hunger inside of him, so he relented. Jeff unclasped the sleeper's shackles, washed him, reapplied the shackles, and left food at the sleepers feet. Before Jeff could move on, the sleeper asked him:
“Who am I?”
Jeff looked puzzled, glanced at Darcy, and said, “We call you ARD, but why do you want to know?”
“Darcy asked me. I didn't know, but now I know.”
Jeff started to wash Darcy. “You shouldn't talk to the others. The Moving Shapes might hear you.”
Darcy did not reply, but waited until Jeff was out of sight before he turned back to ARD. “A'Arty?”
“I'm thinking I like Arty, just Arty, better.”
And so he, Arty, and Bob talked, in whispers so the Shapes wouldn't hear them, and when ever Jeff came by, they would stop talking. As they talked they learned about each other and the cave.
They'd lived in the place for as long as any one of them could remember no one ever remembering anything different, nothing contrary to what they were told–that this is the world, dark and cold, damp, uncomfortable, and that they were here to be protected. Darcy couldn't remember when they had chained him to the wall, facing the Moving Shapes, but ever since the day he'd woken up, when he learned about his chains he always would wonder if what they told him was really true. Why was Jeff free to walk around? Oh, that was just to take care of the others, feed them, wash them. But other questions always plagued Darcy, like, what were the Moving Shapes? And where did the food come from? And if this was the world, if this was it, then why not let them go? What were they being protected from and where did these threats live? He would often share his concerns with Bob and Arty on either side of him.
“We shouldn't question them!” Bob would always say.
But Arty agreed with Darcy, “They should tell us everything!”
Then one day something happened, something strange, a miracle. After a washing, one of Darcy's arm shackles did not close properly. Jeff seemed not to notice, and moved on to Bob. After he was far enough away, Darcy removed his arm from the shackle, which released him without complaint.
“What are you doing?” Bob whispered harshly, terrified, as Darcy released his other restraints.
“Me next!” Arty said.
“Don't leave me!” Bob wailed.
After freeing both of them, the trio hardly knew what to do. They saw a pillar of brightness and dancing lights, and people, just like them, many of them, walking free, carrying objects, things that looked like the rocks they were so familiar with. They were the source of the Moving Shapes! The trio could hardly believe their eyes! For as long as they could remember they'd been taught that those shapes were mystical, things to be feared. But they weren't mysterious at all. And then, something even more incredibly frightening: another source of brightness beyond the dancing pillar, brighter, clearer, warmer.
Cautiously, they moved towards this new brightness, avoiding the people who created the moving shapes. With as much stealth as they could possibly muster, the tentative trio made their way to a most wondrous and terrifying discovery.
The clear brightness grew warmer, even brighter, as they continued, but Bob's resolve waned as the light waxed.
“I can't go on!”
“You must!” Encouraged Darcy, “We are no longer shackled! This is quite possibly the truth!”
“Leave him!” Arty cried, “He is slowing us down, and they may find us soon!”
“Go, I'll stay here. I'll shout if they follow.”
Reluctantly, Darcy moved on. They came to an opening, and beyond that a floor of green strands. Darcy and Arty paused, unsure of how to proceed. Then, resolutely, Darcy stepped out into the brightness.
For a moment, his eyes were blinded, but he felt warm! Such warmth as he had never known. The strands beneath his feet tickled him, made him feel, and inside, there was bubble, a force that expelled itself from him:
And then he could see. And what he did see! Colors! Instinct told him this was real, this was...natural. He saw spires of green, like the stalagmites in the Cave, pointing up. But these were alive! And where there should have been a ceiling there was only... bigness, big blue empty! It went on forever. There were rises and valleys, there were many of these living pillars, many shapes, many colors, but the source of the clean, warm brightness, the...sun, drew his eye more than anything. It was half hidden behind the giant rock that contained the cave.
Arty stepped out of the cave, “What's it like?”
“It's...freedom.” A faint memory, a word, a thing that came from inside his head.
Darcy scrambled onto a ledge beside the cave entrance, and found a path that led around the giant rock, and his breath was taken away.
More of those living pillars, thousands, as many as the threads of green, even a carpet of them. More faint memories stirred within Darcy's heart. Trees. And the giant rock. Mountain. And more mountains, stretching out as far as he could see. He saw water, a giant flowing stream of it, a never-ending line of blue. And...clouds.
Arty was suddenly beside him. “This is amazing! I always knew there was something more! How far do you think this goes on?”
“Forever. We should get Bob.”
“Are you kidding? He's too scared, he'll never do it.”
“But we should get the others, everyone, we need to tell everyone, they all deserve to know!”
“But we'll be killed. I won't do it, I'm going on, I'm going to know as much about this new world as I can!” And so Arty left, scrambling back down the path, down the ledge, and off into the big world, the real world.
But Darcy went back to the cave. There was Bob.
“What was it like?”
“Don't you want to see for yourself?”
“No, I'm not ready.”
“Then will you help me?”
“Help you do what?”
“Everyone deserves to know about this, the outside, the world, that it is beautiful and wonderful. They deserve to know what they can become and what they really are: that they are all living creatures that have a place in the large world and are not to be held captive in the cave, kept in ignorance, chained to a lie, forced to exist and never to be.”
Where had these words come from? Surely it was not Darcy who had spoken. He had never heard such words in his life. But it was indeed Darcy who had spoken. Something had happened when he saw the light, when he had realized that truth was out there and not in the cave. Something or someone might have given those words to Darcy to speak, or he might have remembered them from some forgotten past, it didn't matter. The effect it had on Bob and Darcy together was all that was needed. They now knew why they had escaped.
They traversed the way back to the place where they had existed for as long as they could really remember. They found their companions in darkness, and Darcy told them of the wonders outside.
“You mean this is all a lie?”
“I knew it!”
Those were the cries that arose from the group. It attracted the notice of those who were the source of the Moving Shapes, their captors. Darcy knew what had to be done.
“Bob, you know the way. Be brave and take them there, take them to the light, and step out into it.”
“What about you?”
“I will draw the attention of the liars to me, and take them deeper into the cave, and create an opportunity for you and the rest to escape. Take them as soon as it is safe.”
Darcy run off into the shadows, yelling, shouting “Freedom!”, and when the liars were gone after him, Bob boldly led the people out to the world. There were different reactions, varied between those that Bob had experienced earlier, to the courage that Darcy showed, to the primary hesitancy and the secondary independence that Arty had showcased. The group drifted apart, some in groups, some alone. Some finally found themselves, some were still lost but were determined to find their way.
Years afterward there were rumors. Some had found Arty and he had taught them all he knew. Some made great places to live. Some found other caves, and freed those people. Some found other caves and captured other people.
And Bob stayed by the mouth of the first cave. He would say it was to make sure the liars didn't come out. In reality he wanted desperately for Darcy to come back, to share with him the wonders of the real world, but Darcy never did came back. He had died fighting the liars. He had seen the light for but a few precious moments, but that was enough for him to plunge back into the darkness to bring the others out. He had seen what could be and what was, and he gave his life to bring everyone out to the sun. He had given Bob the courage to lead them out, he had inspired Arty to take off into the world, and he had given everyone back their liberty.
One man, emerging from obscurity, given a dream, and possessing the courage to make it happen, had changed the world completely. Only one thing is certain at this point: this is not The End.
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