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Living in Caves: Could You Survive as a Caveman?

First and foremost, I am delighted to welcome Chris and Jolee Benton as columnists for the Beacon. If their first column is an indication, I have great expectations.

Secondly, to get us out of this wilderness and back to church, I hope everyone will soon be vaccinated. For the well-being of our community, let's get it done. Everyone over 16 is now eligible and plenty of shots are available. You can just show up at the health department and Upson Regional Medical Center as they have the Pfizer vaccine. Zoe Pediatrics has Moderna vaccines so you must be over 18 years of age. There is no cost to you.

A few days ago, I read a report from France (Human Adaptation Institute) who dedicate themselves to studying the effects of human isolation and adaptation. They persuaded 15 volunteers to live in a cave (sleeping in tents) for 40 days without clocks, phones, television, or computers. They got their water from a well and generated their own electricity. The scientists continuously monitored their bodily functions, sleep patterns, social interactions, and cognitive functions.

While the volunteers quickly lost track of time, they emerged after 40 days and 40 nights (like Noah) enjoying the sunshine and birdsongs even though most of them enjoyed the experience so mush, they wanted to continue to live like cave people. While they were isolated from the world, each of them had 14 people around and knew they were connected by the sensors they were wearing. It is important to feel connected as we already documented the ill-effects of isolation. Human beings are social and spiritual beings. We need each other.

It reminded me of another experiment during the cold war era when a fully outfitted high school was set up in a cave in South Dakota to study how teens would adapt being isolated from the world and parents. The experiment was going nicely, a few fights but nothing the teachers couldn't handle. They didn't have sewers, so feces were stored in plastic garbage bags and placed in a remote part of the cave. But each day, with the build-up of gases, the bags ballooned and got bigger and bigger until the principal decided that something had to be done before the bags started to explode. So, he asked each student to grab a bag and when he opened the door, they threw the bas on the ice outside, Maybe you heard about it. It was the start of the ICBM program. (Just a joke)

For the young people who never heard of the ICBM program, it stands for "intercontinental ballistic missile" and was an important part of our defense system 50 years ago.

So, we may not want to go back to living in caves, but what would you be willing to give up among our most modern inventions to improve the quality of our lives? Absolutely not our cell phones and computers, GPS and Google maps, air conditioning and heating, but would you consider plastics, Facebook, and Twitter?

And speaking of caves, do you recall Plato's "Allegory of the Cave?" This Greek philosopher envisioned a tribe of people who for centuries lived in a cave and mistook shadows that came through the cracks and reflected on the walls of the cave as reality. But a curious soul escaped the cave and at first was amazed at the fantasy before him, but as he hit his toe on a rock and his head on a tree and almost drowned in a lake, he exclaimed: "Oh, my God, my people have been living in darkness all this time, and now that I know that this is real, I will go back and tell them."

So, he went back and spoke truth to power and even invited them to experience the reality he had discovered. But they called him a crazy fool and killed him for heresy. Could you have been more persuasive? How could you have brought your people into the light? Would everyone had been better off if he just kept his mouth shut? What do you do when you experience a catharsis and find the "truth?"

"When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from those who have never left home." (Rumi)

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