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The earliest of writings that are derived from western world are important when studying what shapes today’s society. Some might think that old texts are outdated or aren’t resourceful anymore, but they are actually the roots of all aspects of society. The messages or underlying meanings in some of these ancient texts are still relevant in today’s world and most relationships have been shaped based on the ideas presented in these original writings. Our world is ever changing, but the western ideas stand strongly and always have a presence in everything that is produced, whether it’s a television show, presidential election or magazine article. The ideas expressed in Genesis, Plato’s Republic, and the story of Saint Francis have all contributed to the shaping of our world today; without the interpretations of these texts, many relationships could potentially cease to exist or would have a different effect on today’s society. The relationship between one’s self, their gender, and who one is in comparison to society is heavily modelled from these texts; without the foundation from these works, it is likely that the roles of everyone would be altered.
Saint Francis is one of the first, and greatest, examples of a person discovering who they are and pursuing what they believe in, regardless of the beliefs ingrained from his family. His family was exceptionally traditional; families during this time would teach their children to be “vain and arrogant” (Francis 22). From birth, Francis’ parents rooted acts of evil into his life so he could continue the family virtue. These acts consisted of acting narcissistic and selfish; these were the only ways one could act in order to keep the wealth within the family. Rich families during the time of Francis acted alike; they would often marry into other families of prosperity or entitlement out of acting greedy and conceited. The narrator suggests that in this family structure, “… a flawed tree grows from a flawed root” (Francis 23). Francis defies this commonality because as he approached adulthood, his wants and needs shifted. He was generous at heart so rather than use money for evil, he proved to the world that being rich wasn’t his priority though he didn’t do for attention from the rest of the world. One wouldn’t give up their riches to be one with the poor during this time and his choice was wildly unpopular by his family, especially his father. Francis found that giving back to society was a much more rewarding feeling than having wealth. He found his purpose in life when his father confronted him to recover the money. Francis, “immediately took off and threw down all his clothes and returned them to his father” (Francis 33). This was the greatest turning point in his life. When he took off his clothes, he was removing his old reputation, family name, morals and will. This event shattered his family structure, but he found himself to be in a better position in the world though his family pictured a different lifestyle.
Plato’s allegory of the cave coincides with the idea that society can have one image, but finding yourself and staying true to one’s self regardless of the constraints of society is more important. The cave described in the book had three prisoners bound to a wall so they can only see shadows passing; one of the men was set free and his life is changed drastically. When he ventured out of the cave, his knowledge increased and he was able to understand where shadows come from and who makes the noises he was hearing in the cave. Before this, he knew no other way of life so he was content with how he lived. Socrates writes, “… what the prisoners would take for true reality is nothing other than the shadows of those artifacts” (Plato 209). When he returned to his cave, the prisoners couldn’t come to terms with what he was describing. Since he now has a broader view of the world, the other prisoners couldn’t relate to him anymore so they stopped associating with him; they were ignorant to his knowledge so he wasn’t amiable or relatable anymore.. The original cave dweller is educated and since the others don’t comprehend and can’t connect, they only offer feelings of resentment. Since the prisoner expanded his knowledge, he found self happiness and discovered another world to live in and explore. The other prisoners rejected his findings because they were limited in knowledge, but he persevered through their ignorant comments. This idea transcends in modern times; the presidential election is taking over the media, and many people express ideas of ignorance. Nobody can relate with one another because they’re stuck in their own “cave” and refuse to be open minded and see the other side.
The story of Genesis offered a slightly different interpretation of how power should be used and where one is on a social scale compared to the rest of society. One interpretation of how man and woman appeared on earth as mentioned in Genesis contradicts the message given in Francis’ story and Republic. When the Lord decided that men shouldn’t be alone, he introduces women as, “… a helper as his partner… this one should be called Woman” (Genesis 18, 23). The wording of the sentence suggests that women are less important and are degraded when in comparison to men. The Lord wasn’t using his power justly and his knowledge and ability to change a group’s perception ended with a divided society. Since Genesis came from a different part of the world, the beliefs of the people could have been different and their variation could be the reason that society looks at women in a certain way. The effects of Genesis have the greatest impact on today’s world, more than any of the other texts from the western world. Woman face great deficits in opportunities for work and wage inequality. There might have been a variety of outcomes had this text been written or produced differently.
Writings from the ancient western world have molded the ways in which the United States and many other countries function. The morals found in each text can offer explanations as to why one nation acts and believes in certain ways. Some relationships that existed during these times still have influences today. Saint Francis and the prisoner from Plato’s allegory of the cave broke free from what was commonly believed, and they enlightened others, and continue to today, with their findings. Once they broke free from their restraints, they were able to find their purpose and spread awareness. The message in Genesis did the opposite and applied a restraint on a group; the Lord used his power and it resulted in a life in which men appear to be on top of the social pyramid. It’s arguable that the location of where these texts were written and the beliefs of the surrounding people is the reason for opposing views from the stories. These writings had strong meanings and their messages influence many civilizations up to today.
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