Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Managed Morality 11/26/08

It is great to be able to ask myself, what do I really like, and not what am I told I should like.

Elle Macpherson

Isn't it odd how we grow up with a set of likes, dislikes, behavior traits, opinions and perceptions of reality and what the world is, only to have to realize that most of it was simply given to us to accept without question and we, in fact, may have a different set that is wholly our very own. If by good fortune your parents, teachers and any other influncers of your life were consistent in their morals and minds, you have a fairly clear ethic to live by.. But what if you find out it isn't your ethic? What if you realize that the way you think is just a reflection of the way you have been told you should think? What do you do?

Some young folks become rebellious and throw out the family values with the bath water. Others begin the long, treacherous journey to understand themselves.

I was a thinking kid. (I grew up to be a thinking actor, the bane of many directors, particularly the less than brilliant ones.) As a thinking kid I had to process certain thoughts that were handed to me by my family. For one thing there was often a negative suffix added to observations about me, as in "You don't like squash? What's the matter with you?" Which taught me that there was something the matter with me and I didn't know what it was. Then there was "You have got to learn how to make something out of yourself." That meant that I wasn't anything and I didn't know how to become anything. And then there was the blue ribbon, solid gold, Oscar winner, "Well, I hope something comes along some day, hits you in the head and knocks some sense into you." That one told me I had no sense and I'd better watch out because something might hit me in the head any day. That last remark continued for about 35 years during which time life had already hit me in the head plenty of times, thank you.

Out of all that experience came that wonderful but slightly scary moment when something inside me said "Wait a minute! There's nothing the matter with me. If I don't like squash I don't have to like it. Period. If I don't behave the way you want me to, I don't have to. I behave the way I want to and I know why. And I don't need anything else to hit me in the head, I have enough sense already." In other words, out of the confusing mish mash of other people's opinions I was developing my own ethic. It wasn't great and it needed development and adaptations, but it was MINE.

It is a difficult problem to separate what you really think from what you still carry around from the influence of others. It's easy if you know, for certain, that you disagree. It gets harder when you finally realize that Mom was right. Maybe she wasn't right about everything, but there are a few that you know are true and you can go ahead and accept them as your own thinking,without having to accept the squash.

DB - The Vagabond


Beth said...

Nicely put. In my college days, I was very antidisestablishmentarian. As I got older I realized that my folks had a lot more wisdom than I gave them credit for, and the older I get, the smarter THEY get. Odd how that works.


Big Mark 243 said...

This was a very good entry. That moment, when you realize that you are the one who has to make sense of the life you are given, is a powerful time.

It is thrilling and daunting to step outside of the box, and to go on and make something of your own accord.

In the end, some of the things that were 'installed at the factory', the stuff put into you when you are at home and are developing, is what we come back to.

Arlene (AJ) said...

I remember all that I was taught as a child from my Mom and Dad and mostly live my life accordingly as I like and appreciate what they taught me. I'm also my own thinker and have my own thoughts and opinions on many things that would differ from my parents. That's ok, I'm an adult now and I speak for me, but sppreciate the good, strong values they taught me and bless them for that.