January 26   

Today's quotation:

Success, recognition, and conformity are the bywords of the modern world where everyone seems to crave the anesthetizing security of being identified with the majority.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today's Meditation:

When I was younger, I thought that this was a truth that would change as time went on.  Surely, as we learn more about what makes us happy and as we teach young people to think for themselves, people will allow their individuality to shine through more and will tolerate the individuality of others more readily?  Unfortunately, we didn't understand then the breadth of the influence that mass media--and the social media that followed them--would have on our young people.  It's rather frightening to see just how timely Martin's words are today, even though they were spoken more than fifty years ago.

But I can only deal with my own life, so I can do my best to make sure that I go about my life uncovering and letting shine my individuality, my unique personality.  In order to do so, of course, I need to be sure that I don't allow the reactions and opinions of the people around me to influence me too strongly.  If I speak my mind too strongly and hurt someone, then I want someone to set me straight.  But if I simply speak my mind even though my view is at odds with others, then I don't need to be "corrected."  If I want to wear green in a room where everyone else is wearing black, then green it is--unless, of course, I've signed a contract in which I agree to wear black at the workplace.

The "anesthetizing security" is a frightening concept to consider.  We do ourselves a huge disservice when we allow ourselves to be numbed by the masses, when we suppress our personality and individuality simply because we want to "fit in."  Fitting in is a dangerous goal to shoot for, because then our actions and words are determined by what we think other people want to see and hear, and our own expression is suppressed.

We can only truly get to know ourselves by being ourselves, and learning from the mistakes that we make as ourselves.  If I make a mistake in a religious or political arena, then I learn how to function best in that setting--I don't learn about my own spirit or person.  I can still be involved in groups even as an individual, but it does take work to maintain my uniqueness and the beauty and specialness that it entails.

Questions to consider:

What causes us to want to be parts of groups, acting and speaking as members of that group expect us to?

Why is it so easy to lose sight of our own personalities when we're involved in groups?

On the day you die, will you want to look back at a lifetime lived on your own terms, or a lifetime based on the demands of others?

For further thought:

Nature made us individuals, as she did the flowers and the pebbles; but we are afraid to be peculiar, and so our society resembles a bag of marbles, or a string of mold candles.  Why should we all dress after the same fashion?  The frost never paints my windows twice alike.

Lydia Maria Child

more thoughts and ideas on individuality



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