An Allegory of Truth
by Daniel Shea 8/30/2013
True story, an Arab friend (let’s call him Jamal to protect his identity) told me a story about a visit from his brother who was on vacation, coming from Saudi Arabia.
Jamal: My brother came to visit, I was telling him, I was concerned over the treatment of women in our country. He argued all the old dominate male myths of superiority that I and all our society had been bred on.
Brother: Women must know their place, if they abide by our traditions then their husbands will respect them and they and their husbands will be happy. This is the way it is and has always been. Why do you want to stir up the a hornet’s nest? What have these Americans done to you? You are being corrupted by their evil influences, it is their propaganda that is misleading you, time for you to come home and get your bearings.
Jamal: We continued to argue but he stuck to his guns, and before long his vacation came to an end and he would have to return home. But before leaving he wanted a memento and possibly something he could make some money off when back at home. Thus, my brother found a novelty shop and these peculiar postcards and pictures called “Magic Eye Pictures”, you know, the ones where you stare at these two dimensional cards or posters and like magic, you see a three dimensional image. They are kind of amazing as your eyes adjust to the staring, eyes crossing and tearing suddenly as if by magic and as though looking through a glass window, space opens and a three dimensional image appears.
Jamal said his brother bought up a large supply to take back home where he had visions of amazing all his family and friends and maybe making a little profit by selling some of them. If things went well he might even see if he could become the business representative of the manufacturer for all of Saudi Arabia.
Unfortunately when he showed them to his family and friends they were unable to see anything but the squiggly two dimensional colored lines and nothing more. He was about to lose a lot of money on this venture and his dream of being the king of the ‘magic eye business’ in Saudi Arabia going up in smoke. He needed to find someone who could see what he could see. He and his friends, smoked some weed, still nothing, they went to a Saudi speak easy to drink the demon alcohol and nothing. His friends said he was crazy, that the Americans had brainwashed him, there was nothing to see but posters and cards with crazy colored zigzag lines. He began looking at each of the posters and cards, and he could still see the 3D images as clearly as a day’s sunrise.
His mother and father humored him and said they didn’t understand what had happened to him but they liked the colors and abstractness of his posters and they bought a few and framed them to put on their walls. This was Jamal’s brother ultimate humiliation. It became apparent that he was alone in this ability to see what he saw. He began to doubt his own sanity, and called me, saying Jamal, what did you do to me, no one here is able to see what I can see so plainly. What kind of American trick is this, did you drug me with some evil American poison?
Jamal: I told him no, don’t be silly, but now you know how it feels when nobody believes you. You did the same thing to me when I spoke about justice and rights for women. It is a little like Plato’s Cave Allegory where once exposed to truths previously outside one’s perceptions, when one first sees something never experienced before we can’t even believe our own eyes, but soon the facts of the reality set in and when we try to explain this objective experience to others they think we are mad.
That is what I was trying to explain to you about the injustice of our homeland and its’ repression of women. It is like this, once you see injustice you become familiar with its forms, its patterns, its shapes and you will see it in any direction you look and you can’t escape it, you learn to see the opposite of injustice recognizing the differences between rights and wrongs and like the magic eye pictures the truth immediately appears. Trying to teach others what you see as plain as the nose on your face is not so easy, they must experience the truth for themselves and once seen they cannot see differently but if they fear to tell the truth because they fear being alone, an outcast or even insane, then to deny the truth, they must lie.
There isn’t any magic way of perceiving the truth about the world we live in, one must experience the contradictions about our traditions and look beyond our own cultural box, it is the trappings of things we have been taught all our lives. To break free, open your mind and think for yourself, allowing yourself to see the reality before your eyes and trust your own heart, it will give you confidence to tell the truth. – The end.
Jamal told me this story and it affected me deeply, I began to share his story because it teaches us to think critically, we all know the patterns of oppression, so look for its opposite, learn the patterns of true justice and find your truth, then you will find your path to living your life as a true human being.