If survival is the highest law, then a great many today are doing everything to break it. To kill themselves off, not bodily, but psychologically.
The majority of people will flail through life buffeted and shaken by the demands of others, and as a result they give up the one thing that truly allows them to live; their identity. You see, there is a disturbing and dehumanizing quality to much of society; individuals are penalised for their humanity.
Specifically for their expression of their humanity. Their ability and willingness to be no-one but themselves.
Society demands certain conformities, and behaviours; hypocritically picking and choosing those which are acceptable out of shame and guilt, while practicing or thinking the opposite in private. It is a great shell game where everyone pretends not to know, yet is secretly involved.
The inevitable result is this: people take it upon themselves to hide who they are, in order to prevent being penalised, in order to fit in and in order to please others.
Thus the majority of people are now merely living up to the expectations of others instead of following their own paths.
In this way one of the great crimes of modern history is perpetrated; identity theft.
Identity is that which you are, your mind and your body together, and it is all that allows you to function and reason and create. The theft is conducted by those who have lost their own identities and now seek to cannibalise the identities of everyone else in order to have a stab at existence. It is conducted by those who would demand of you oblivion, and subservience: the superstitious (which is interchangeable with “religious” but more accurate); the media who seek to tell you what to think; the schools who make the children of our countries less able to think; the politicians who demand that you give up your own way of life for the whims of “the majority”; and, even a great many of your friends and family who would tell you what they think is the proper way to live and pressure you to live that way through guile or outright demands.
How does this happen, and how do we let it happen? Are you even aware of what it is that I am talking about? It may take you some thinking to even acknowledge it as a problem, so insidious and engrained in to our way of thinking are these ideas. I will offer a few examples in order to illustrate this debauched phenomenon; you do not have to take my word for it however, once you know what to look for you will see these patterns everywhere.
Fired For Facebook
There is now a consensus among ordinary people that in order to protect a career – be it burgeoning or established – Facebook must be treated with the utmost of care. Pictures showing the antics of a life being lived (or wasted) must be hidden in order to construct an identity favourable to… To whom? To prospective employers, to family and friends, to “they”. In my undergraduate research I learned the extent to which Facebook users make careful use of the limited space afforded to them by the site in order to construct carefully made online identities. The result is a fairly homogenised, Americanised portrait where people try very hard to show themselves as; partying hard; living well; being adventurous and all manner of other personality traits, but all confined within the “acceptable” social boundaries that are unwritten yet binding as steel chains.
You may argue that this is perfectly normal; it is important to the ego, for self-promotion and many other reasons that people choose how to present themselves. That is not a debate for now, since there is a more pressing evil, and it comes as in the following example.
The person who makes a significant and concerted effort to eradicate from existence any documentary evidence of their nature which they do not want made public. This seems normal as in the description above; after all, we all seek to cast a favourable light over ourselves. But is it really the path of the confident and true man to obscure that which he is in order to be that which other people think he should be?
The answer, to any person who wishes to be free in this life, must be a resounding, emphatic and immovable no!
This is the behaviour of someone who is running away from themselves and towards – towards what I am not sure, because it is not something I have ever sought. Towards recognition from others? Acceptance? To obscure yourself for your own ends is one thing, but this must not be confused with doing it for others!
Yet he has convinced himself through double-think, social and political pressure and other nefarious psychological tricks that he should be as they will it, since his goal is to pursue their goals and so he must assume their identities. With it comes the whole sorry mess of hypocrisy, self-deceit and corruption that accompanies any individual who forsakes their identity in order to live for the sake of others.
But, you may respond,this is for the good, because businesses can see who fits with their job and who doesn’t, and thus can hire only the ablest and most talented for the work.
This sounds acceptable, but looking at what actually occurs, does the evidence paint a picture of rational decisions based on the merits of prospective employees?
The Discrimination We All Ignore
Or; The Only Just Standard Is Competence
The gold standard in the world of work for anyone who seeks not to be a hypocrite must be competence. Yet those of us who are actually good at what we choose to do are confronted routinely by people utterly out of their depth who have found work out of pity, a “need” or because they seem right, nice, clean-cut – in other words that they fit some nonsense image that applies not to the real world but to a fantasy land. People demand jobs and recognition for which they are completely undeserving because they want it more than anything or it means the world to them. If you ever find yourself uttering these banalities then stop a moment to recognise the downward slope you are on; it leads to the destruction of your mind.
However, people can only behave and demand in this way because somehow, the rationale of the age allows it. The result is that many jobs are won or lost on what amounts to appearances.
Say your ambition is to become a barrister; you ‘know’ that you ought not to do illegal recreational drugs (although drinking is fine), and you definitely shouldn’t get a tattoo. You know that you must wear a suit to interviews, and to your job. You might even have to speak a certain way, write a certain way and be seen to be saying the right things at the right time. Should you hold a controversial opinion, it is better for you to maintain your silence.
So far, so common sense?
Look through each of these items again, and what do they have in common? Not a single one has any bearing on a person’s intellectual capacity; their ability to find evidence, construct an argument, and argue it persuasively is completely ignored by each.
Not a single one has anything to do with competence.
Instead they all show the “kind” of person; whether they are “suitable” for the job, not whether they are good at it. It is not a great stretch to say that this is the exact same mentality that prevented the most exceptional Jewish lawyers from working at the best white firms in the early half of last century (see Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell for more on this – this is an affiliate link).
You see, regardless of their supreme grades at law school and brilliant minds, they were the wrong sort.
Of course it is now unacceptable to be so flagrantly and irrationally discriminatory against people for who they are.
Or is it?
If you must hide who you are in order to work somewhere, if you must subordinate your passion and expertise, then you must emphatically refuse to pander to their wishes and never even apply – that is if you wish to stay human, living and vital.
If your wish is to subordinate your wishes for the sake of others, to be subservient, to fit in, and to be the right sort; if you seek employment based on what you can be for someone rather than your talent; if you demand work because you want it (it means everything!); then may you be damned by your own cowardice and refusal to live!
This is the discrimination we all ignore even when it is thrown in our faces; on the X-Factor a contestant is put through the early stages not because they are talented, but because they want it more than anything, and debase themselves enough to earn the pity of the judges. Acts are popular seemingly due to their sheer incompetence (Jedward!), because it makes average people think that average people can and ought to be as successful as the very best.
I stopped watching that show a year ago once I saw (and fully understood) that it pandered to mediocrity – worse, that it actually celebrates incompetence! Under the guise of a “talent” show it throws imbeciles in to the spotlight for the sole reason that they are awful. This is not a talent show; I want to see talent, and greatness! I do not want to be reminded that mediocre people are deluding themselves because a nation has now begun rewarding inability. I want to bask in the genius of man and acknowledge superlative achievements. And this is the truth; why would anyone who is secure in their own ability seek or derive pleasure in the failures of others?
Individuals who have chosen to mould themselves in to what others see or want have forsaken their great purpose in life; to be an individual. To be. To let no-one else decide for them what is good and great – they have wantonly cast aside this privilege and right in order to better subdue themselves. To become meek, servile.
Now, no doubt there are people who are a wrong fit, or who legitimately don’t deserve jobs. But in many cases that’s not what happens; all too often, people penalised because someone, somewhere, disapproves.
The clucking tongues of those who would make the business of others their own.
In doing so they would presume to take ownership of others, because those others can apparently not be without that damned approval.
One of the great and lingering burdens of Abrahamic religions is a fervent and persistent preoccupation with the private affairs of others. Worse; an obsession with limiting, inhibiting or otherwise restricting the liberty of others; “you mustn’t”, “oh you ought not to”, “that’s not respectable”. Etc.
It is a truly despicable and indefensible hangover of unenlightened, fearful and superstitious minds from ages past. We as a species should have by now overcome it, but – since religion merely echoes, and manifests the urges and desires of man – it persists.
There will always be those puny-minded and ethically malnourished sorts who wish to prescribe or proscribe certain behaviours that are for many – invariably irrational – reasons considered to be not right.
The great shame is that people have become so degraded, so ashamed of themselves that they willingly let their identities be stolen in order to achieve standards that others have set. They willingly rip out the only thing that can make a person good, and a life worth living. They think that because they care about themselves that they are bad, and so pour their energies in to pleasing and serving others; but this drinking horn is the same from which Thor was draining the seas and causing the tides, and is of the same magnitude – only we have not a god’s thirst!
Stand Up For Yourself!
Stand up for your damn self! Do the unthinkable and take responsibility for every facet of your person; the good, the bad, the virtuous and the contemptible. Recognise that no one but you has a rightful claim to your life, and that you have no claim to theirs. Only then can you seek to be the most glorious version of yourself. And only then will you have no need to hide that which you are in order to pursue false ideals and the dreams of others.
Only then, can you pursue your own dreams.
Only then will you be free.
Stand up for yourself!
I want to hear what you have to say on this – are you living for the wishes of others, or are you holding fast to your own life? Or do you even recognise this as a problem? If you want to start living for yourself but don’t know how then get in touch.