"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." - St. John the Apostle (John 3:19)
Why does no good deed go unpunished? The short answer is that good deeds will eventually be rewarded by God (if not in this life, then in the next). But why does the world tend to punish those who do good deeds and live good lives? Because the world lives in darkness and opposes those who live in the light. Those who live good lives and do good deeds shine the light on darkness and expose evil deeds. All of life is a struggle between light and darkness, good and evil, right and wrong, etcetera, etcetera.
The famous philosopher
Plato (a student of Socrates) wrote in his book The Republic (circa 387 B.C.) an
allegory called The Cave. In the story, Socrates has a conversation
with Plato’s brother Glaucon in which he describes a prehistoric theater deep
inside a dark cave where the audience members, since their childhoods, are chained
and held captive watching shadow puppet shows (similar to a movie theater
today). The shows the captive audience
watched were images of the real things and events in the world outside the cave.
So one day an audience
member was set free and told that the shadow puppet show he’d been watching
since childhood were not at all real but merely illusions of reality. At first he was skeptical and didn’t believe
it. So to prove it to him, he was shown
the puppets and fire that produced the shadows he’d watched since childhood,
but he still wouldn’t believe it.
Finally, he was forcibly dragged out of the dark cave into the light of
the real world!
Initially he was shocked
by what he saw as his eyes painfully adjusted to the bright sunlight. But after awhile, he came to see and appreciate
the beauty of the world as it really is outside of the dark cave.
Later on, however, he
started to feel pity for the captives still imprisoned deep inside the dark cave. So after much thought, he decided to venture back
inside the cave in order to tell them the truth about the real world and the light outside of the cave.
After he went back into
the cave and told the others about the real
world outside the cave they just laughed at him and said he’d lost his
sight and his mind. He desperately tried
to prove it to them, but they still wouldn’t believe him. So eventually they killed him since they
didn’t want him to lead others astray.
The protagonist in this famous allegorical story represents
the countless seers and sages throughout history that have tried to enlighten society by speaking the truth but were punished for their good deeds. For example, Socrates, John the Baptist,
Jesus of Nazareth, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860 A.D., a
famous German philosopher) wrote, All
truth passes through three stages: first, it is ridiculed; second, it is
violently opposed; third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
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