RBC | Our society runs on appearances. Follow the yellow brick road of conformity to a magical land of acceptance, and your life will be gumdrops and lollipops.
Cue the flying monkeys. Whether it’s a specific body weight or shape, a set of interests, religious beliefs or how we wear our hair, each aspect of who we are is judged “acceptable” or “unacceptable” by everyone we come in contact with (and every single one of them has a differing definition of those terms.)
Borrowing my four year old’s favorite phrase, it’s “crazy pants.”
There’s no way to win, but boy, do we ever try. At a very early age, most of us relinquish free thinking and individuality for the illusion of acceptance. It’s so much easier than swimming upstream against society’s expectations.
Imagine a world without rebels, though—Galileo, Einstein, the Wright brothers, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Rosa Parks and millions of others who didn’t make the history books. All broke the molds society created for them, all were ridiculed, and all persisted, changing their future, our present, for the better.
We tend to laud these brave men and women and go right back to stuffing everyone from ourselves to the delivery guy into suffocating societal molds.
Sometimes, with all that squishing and squashing, the mold cracks, and we panic, taking up the weapon of judgment to defend our precious preconceptions. We cut ourselves and others down to size through ridicule, mockery, and disparagement. Eventually all that’s left is Monty Python’s armless, legless “Tis but a scratch!” Black Knight, pouring individuality from a plethora of wounds.
I don’t want to live in a world of mortally wounded souls, do you? It’s like choosing to live in a puddle when there’s a whole ocean in front of you. If we are all mutilated to fit society’s arbitrary definition of who we should be, we’ll never grow, and our individuality will eventually stagnate and die, taking with it the unique spark we all bring to this world.
Of course, there will always be those who are too weak to see past their own bias. They, too have a place in society — a harbinger of the shriveled existence you’ll lead if you choose to cut others down.
If, however, you’d rather swim freely in an ocean of amazing and beautiful and mind-boggling things, look past your preconceptions. Appreciate the rebels, the free thinkers, the mold breakers. Better yet?