Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wisdom Within 2/04/09

Labor to keep alive in your breast
that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

George Washington
A fond hello friend.

One of the things I regret the most from my youth was having to make unfair and unnecessary adaptations in my speech and attitudes in order to accommodate the people around me. If I expressed my own opinion about something it was usually belittled, ridiculed and criticized. Furthermore, it was generally agreed upon by everyone that until a person reached the age of 21 he was completely incapable of thinking for himself. So that when I did make a statement I heard a scornful "Oh, is that so." or "Where did you hear that?" or other such comments. People thought they were correcting me when all they were doing was disagreeing with me.

In order to protect myself from this moral misdemeanor I learned, early on, not only to keep my mouth shut but to act like I agreed with everyone. I got so good at it that I actually convinced myself that I believed in certain things that weren't true. I didn't realize then what a betrayal of myself I was causing.

I began to believe that certain behavior was all right because the group of people I was with behaved that way. I developed prejudices and biases that were based on nothing. I formed attitudes about things that conformed to those around me. I did whatever I needed to so that I would be approved of and not criticized and harshly judged by others. In short I gave myself away.

I did make friends, real ones. And at first I was puzzled by why they approved of things that I had convinced myself were wrong. But slowly my horizon began to change. I was actually opening up some closed doors in my own thinking and to accept ideas that had been hidden behind them gathering dust. I started to ask myself what I really thought about something and to reason it out rather than to fall back on a safe and previous attitude. My words became better and less judgmental and my behavior improved. I was discovering my conscience.

I felt vigorous about leaving the unreasonable behind and standing on better moral ground. Rather than to conform, I became a vagabond. Rather than to satisfy the normality, I became an artist. And rather than agree with the inane I found a sense of humor.

Such a thing doesn't happen overnight. It takes a life.

May you always have enough hay for your horse and wood for your stove.

The Vagabond


Jeannette said...

I was the same, I was brought up with "little girls should be seen and not heard". I do not think my parents ever valued my opinion as they still thought of me as their little girl. I speak my mind now though

Beth said...

Conformity kills.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I try to stay quiet, and am often successful, but if something trips my trigger, watch out. Of course, if I am in the company of like minded friends, all bets are off.

Karen said...

With age comes wisdom.

Gerry said...

I came to a personal crisis during my college years when I realized that when I feared the reaction I conformed. I spoke my mind to people I did not fear, but if I feared them I would go along. I decided this had to stop if I was ever going to become a good writer which was my goal, so I iniated a plan to get myself speaking the truth even if I feared reactions. The end result even surprised me, because I ended my college years by getting incarcerated in a mental ward after an interview with the school psychiatrist which was probably less than two minutes long. By then I had become accustomed to responding in a truthful manner to everyone, thinking that if I got in trouble with my grades, I would simply have to leave. That was happening, but I did not think anyone would think what I was doing was so dangerous I needed to be incarcerated! Then I was really going to be tested. I had to go on doing what I was doing so that the way could be cleared for the truth, rather than conformity. I could not stop because of fear of what might happen to me, because this was the only way I was going to get truth back in my world. I could see then that I had had reason to fear, for not conforming could get me killed. I almost died in there, but I hung on to this truth as the right way to become strong, and even though I was very weak physically I was still strong mentally when I left, and continued to get stronger every day.