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We all are confined into visualizing and adopting those aspects of lives that are shown us by the outside world. Our activities are involved in deriving those aspects in our daily lives that are assumed to be best for us by the sources outside our inner domain. These sources could be our family, society, political circle, bureaucrats or players in the market. We see what is shown to us, act what is decided for us and adopt what is bestowed for us creating a situation of great dilemma in our inner consciousness.

We are all like persons imprisoned in a dark cave for many centuries without any sign of light outside. Plato most profoundly espoused this aspect of man’s introvert experience with cave by presenting an allegory of the cave. The allegory of the cave, a philosophical disposition is most relevant in today’s context. In the underground cave, men chained see their own images but when they are exposed to the sun they are blinded.

Importance of allegory lies in the fact that there are many number of invisible truths lying beneath that only an enlighten person could take up on the surface. Prisoners under the cave at first instance resist themselves from enlightenment but those who attain that enlightenment can attain the leadership stance. It is not about attainment of knowledge that can be put in the empty minds but it is all about making people realize the things they already know. We all need to come to grip with the questions we need to arrive so as to make ourselves enlightened about the world.

Allegory of cave is a part of “The Republic” by Plato, who tried to emphasis the thing that could happen if suddenly the man is released from chains of ignorance and let open into the world but is frightened and want to return back into its familiar space. But some would in true letter and spirit look at the sun and realize the true world. They would return back to the cave to make others also free from bondage but those in bondage would not believe there is another world outside the dark cave that is more beautiful and better than theirs.

Plato’s allegory of cave is a darkness of social and political circles that had engulfed the society of the period. Both Confucius and Socrates sought to disseminate these problems with the most profound weapon of strong moral principles. Platonic Socrates, as Plato depicted him, makes us realize that the impact the enlightened social policies can only make if people are educated on the basis of sound moral philosophy. This allegory of cave has much validity in today’s context as it was in the past; only the degree of attitude and the methodology has changed.

Today’s world is more possessed with materialism and major players holding economy of the world in their sway have confided themselves in the darkness of cave. In their ignorance to capture the world for materialistic and economic gains, they are posing themselves as most malicious. Here we look into the “Fast Food Nation”, wherein major industries are targeting children bringing them into folds of varieties of their delicacies. Children are confided into darkness of the caves following and adopting the food pattern what are shown to them. Like prisoners, feel shadows as real.

They would think the things appearing on the wall to be real and would be total unaware of the total reality. When prisoner say that he is looking at the book but then what he would see is not the book but only its shadow, but he uses the word ‘book’. And the answer of this Plato gave when he said, “And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them” (Plato, 2007, p. 169) In the food industry, players are attracting children towards their various food items and children are also adopting them unaware of harms.

What lay behind these large food chain industries is the darker side of American capitalism and to which state Plato says, “Whereas the truth is that the State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and most quietly governed, and the State in which they are most eager, the worst. ” (Plato, 2007, p. 174) Plato forecasted that in the coming world every one would be like independent kings capable to understand and make independent decision but they all be engulfed in darkness not knowing what is good for them and their children.

Plato said that we may acquire the knowledge of the concepts by our own experience of physical objects, but we are mistaken by thinking that what we grasp in reality is not on the similar platform of what we perceive. In other words what we think is good for ourselves and for nation may not come out to be good. Fast food industry has created an incredible impact on the society at large. Barrage of fast food ads, full of thick juicy burgers, and long golden fries, appear quite tempting but what we are unaware of are the real facts hidden behind mouth watering and delicious fast foods.

We think fast foods are delicious, have mouth watering taste and nutritious too but we are blinded by the severity of the negative effects these fast foods are generating not only on our health but also on our wealth and whole economy. We and our children are so habituated to lure away by the fast food phenomenon, that hardly we know several ill effects are increasing their tentacle wings across the social and economic fabric of society and most vulnerable are our children who are carried away by the lucrative ads and temptations offered by such industries.

Fast food industry was born during an Eisenhower period, the period of technological advancement with slogans like “Better living through Chemistry” and “Our friend through atom. ” (Schlosser, 2001, p. 6) The technological wizardry, promoted by Walt Disney on television eventually reached in the kitchens of fast food restaurants. Corporate culture created by McDonald got into limelight by sharing its technological advancement to Disney Empire. Scientific development can be seen to the full in complete process of the preparation of fast food.

The restaurants already get frozen, canned, dehydrated, or frozen dried food. The foods that may look familiar can be totally reformulated. The taste and aroma that we feel in the American fast food is manufactured at large chemical plants at New Jersey Turnpike. (Schlosser 2001, p. 7) The increase in the parity of the fast food chain industry have brought about number of changes in the methodology of cattle raising, slaughtering and processing into ground beef.

This led to the meat packing industry the most dangerous preoccupation and they introduced what are called as deadly pathogens, such as E Coli 0157; H 57 into the meat of America Hamburger; this is the product adequately marketed to children. Sociologist George Ritzerd revoked the victory of McDonald as “The irrationality of rationality. ” (Schlosser, 2001, p. 9) The trend to attract children started in 1980, when many parents feeling guilty of spending less time on their children were ready to spend money on them. One of the marketing expert term 1980 as ‘the decade of the child consumer.

’ (Schlosser, 2001, p. 43) Main purpose of these advertisements targeting at children, as explained by marketing wizard in Selling to Kids, “It’s not just getting kids to whine, it’s giving them a specific reason to ask for a product. ” (Schlosser, 2001, p. 43) Many years back sociologist Vance Packard too gave description of children as ‘surrogate salesmen’, (Schlosser, 2001, p. 43) terming them as best customers who would coax their parents to buy what ever they wished for, and the aim of advertisers was clear to induce children to nag their parents.

Competition to attract young customers forced the fast food restaurants to enter into marketing alliances with companies like sports , toys and Hollywood studios etc. For e. g. in their promotional campaign, McDonald’s organized events with NBA and Olympics. Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC entered into three year contract with the NCAA. Similarly Burger King, Nickelodeon, McDonald’s and the Fox Kids Network had also partnered to create an ambience of delicacy with the entertainment for children. Expenditure on marketing on food and restaurants aiming children had been together around $10 billion per year.

A report by American Psychological Association (APA) called upon companies to put an end to the advertisements targeting children and this call got support of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The report brought to focus the fact that these advertisements exploit children who are below the age eight years attracting them towards virtualized cartoon characters. More than fifty percent of food items shown, as commercials attracting children, are high in sugar and fat content. Advertisements, appearing in digital ads are also not regulated.

Schools also became a venue for food companies to make children their permanent audience. In 1993, District 11 in Colorado Springs became first place to allow placement of advertisements of Burger King and King Sooper in hallways of schools and on the school buses just to overcome shortfalls in their revenue. Slowly, this trend spread in several other schools in other areas as well. Advocators of advertisements contend that it is necessary to prevent further cut and opponents argue that as children spend much of their time in schools, they had to look at ads as means of their earnings to meet their school expenses.

In one of the brochures of 1997, the Kids Power Marketing conference stated, “Discover your own river of revenue at the school house gates. ” (Schlosser, 2001, p. 52) These American schools are no less than gold mines for the fast food companies. (Schlosser, 2001 p. 52) Fast food adequately possess health hazard elements containing only fat, sugar and salt and without any nutrition. Children below 12 years of age are easily carried away by lucrative advertisements causing financial as well as nutritious loss.

Parents are finding themselves lost in the battle fighting against companies always ready to drop their infinite food at their doorsteps and in the light of this scenario the question that arises is the methods we should adopt to stop commercial entrepreneurs to take sensitivity of children to their advantage. Unfortunate part is when schools are themselves becoming part in commercial ventures of the companies then what is the ultimate solution? Education, according to Plato is forced thought among children, because for Plato every person has an ability to judge and think.

If one is not able to comprehend these understandings within oneself then these are for him fetters. If we are able to understand what is good for us then only we could imbibe in the children what is good for them. The reality is gained by looking the situation and universal trends around us and yet how we perceive and adopt these universal trends is a question? We have to make children analyze several images shown to them by the companies in the form of lucrative advertisements, and fun filled attractive measures to make them understand what is good and what is bad for their health and over all well being.

Images of cave are these advertisements and for children, what are shown to them is real and best without being aware of the reality behind these commercial makers. In April 2007, BBC reported the ban on television commercials showing junk foods. But this is not enough as said by Dr David Haslam of National Obesity Forum, as there are several avenues good enough to lure children. Enter into any super market and you will find chocolates and candies at the easy reach of children. (BBC News Online, 2007). Need is to foster upon children inherent capacity to understand things and advertisements’ in the light of their advantages or disadvantages.

But first schools should be made sensitive to the issues related to the fast foods. Instead of encouraging companies, schools should prevent them to bring their commercial propositions in their school venues that would bring more harm than the good to children. Education should be imparted is such a way that awareness is created among children regarding the harmful effects of fast foods. Special sessions and seminars should be conducted to give know-how to parents on the ways to keep children away from lucrative advertisements and harmful effects of junk foods.

These programs should be conducted on the regular basis, and in this way the benefit they get, as according to Plato, will bring children out of their darkness into the new light and will see far better lives which they were not able to comprehend before.

REFERENCE LIST BBC News. 2007. Junk food ad ban comes into force. Retrieved on June 20, 2008 from W. W. W: http://news. bbc. co. uk/1/hi/health/6515245. stm Plato. 2007. The Republic. (Translated by Benjamin Jowett). Radford, VA: Wilder Publications. Schlosser, E. 2001. Fast food nation: the dark side of the all-American meal. New York: Houghton Mifflin Books.

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