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Getting into the cave is easier than getting out

We are all watching the drama in Thailand where an international team of experts works to recue 12 boys and a coach from deep inside a cave. We wish, of course, for all of them to be rescued alive, healthy, and promptly, so they can return to their families and nobody else will get hurt or worst during the rescue efforts.

But I don’ want to focus on that drama, but only in one particular aspect: entering and exiting the cave. During the ceaseless news coverage of the rescue, one of the major TV networks interviewed an expert who said that when he trains his team for cave or underwater rescues, he tells his team it is easier to get into the cave than to get out.

In fact, according to that expert, this training focuses on how to exit the cave alive, not in how to get in.

That idea got me thinking because it illustrates an obvious truth: there are countless places, activities, and habits in our lives where it is easy to get in and difficult to get. For example, if we want to be overweight, we don’t need to do too many things. But if we want to lose all that extra weight, then we are faced with a real challenge.

And what about debts? It is quite easy to have a credit card. We all receive all kinds of unsolicited applications by mail or by email. It is easy to use those cards and accumulate debts. And it is difficult to pay those debts.

A short reflection and some imagination could add many more examples about situations in our lives easy to get in, difficult to get out, including relationships and jobs.

But there is another important element in the story of the boys trapped inside the cave in Thailand. According to the expert who spoke on TV, to find your way out of the cave you need an expert. Getting out of the cave with the help of an expert led me to think on another cave, an allegorical cavern, where people are trapped until somebody “rescues” them.

But this allegorical cave presented by Plato in his Republic is different from the one in Thailand, because in Thailand the boys know they are trapped and they want to be rescued. In Plato’s cave, people are unaware they are in a cave and, therefore, they are not expecting anybody to come and free them.

Plato doesn’t provide details about how people got into the cave, but it doesn’t matter. We know it’s easy to get into the cave. The problem is to get out. And many people spend such a long time trapped inside their own caves that they forget the are trapped and they refused to be rescued.

We want all 12 boys and their coach to be rescued. And we also want for all those trapped inside caves of their own creation to one day be free and experience the fullness of life.


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