What a world we live in today. One of peer pressure, social pressure, ‘screwed down anti-human views,’ and all manner of ways in which we are tamped down into the dirt daily, told to shove our faces in it so that we do not see reality.
Today, most of the populous believes that going against the grain is going against traditional societal norms. Traditional norms that have stood the test of time and temptation. And yet the result is that everyone is different and unique, just like everyone else. Bucking the basic common sense of societal and natural norms isn’t free-thinking at all. To be a free thinker in our world has nothing to do with tattoos, being a parishioner in the congregation of Climate Change, wearing an ‘I Got an Abortion!’ tee-shirt, looking into the past for institutionalized racism, misogyny, or any other cause du jour of our day.
Being a free thinker means exactly what the phrase intends. If one is parroting a popular cultural opinion, it is not free thought, it is regurgitation. Not once in the history of all humanity has anyone been provocative or original with their thoughts and opinions without making immediate enemies of some form. The human being is above the animals partly because of his ability to ponder the world and respond to it outside of the will of the herd when necessary. Still the herd is the herd today as it was yesterday, and it will do its best to trample you for daring to voice genuinely honest and brutal opinions about the stupidity and vapid virtue signalling of our day.
So reach down and scrape it, and howl into the herd a primal scream of reality.
There will be consequences, of this there is no question. This is why peer pressure and social pressure work: we feel fear of rejection. It’s only natural, as humans are meant to be communal creatures, and no digital community can take the place of actual, human interaction. But social media, perhaps the best virus every written in the history of computing, has utterly reprogrammed first-world humanity. It has removed empathy, context, critical thought, and reason from us. In the place of those things are outrage and revenge; we live in a ‘hit-back’ culture where people believe that they simply must answer every ‘call out’ with an explanation.
The hell with that.
The best answer to the ‘call out’ culture of our day is to respond by saying, “You are free to express your opinion. You are also free to shove that opinion.”
But at times one must be gentle as a dove and wise as a serpent. Being willing to crash and burn and take the consequences of going against the herd is the most important part of the equation, but still only a part of that equation. Though we need more blunt instruments in our world willing to defy the nonsense of our culture these days, nuance is necessary. To a hammer, everything is a nail, including one’s own thumb if the aim isn’t true. And when swinging wildly, there is always the chance of hitting someone on the head who might have otherwise been willing to hear a different perspective if offered with empathy and kindness. Knowing when to tell someone ‘calling you out’ to shove it is as important as developing the necessary muscles required to have the strength to buck the current trends. Tapping into the truth of reality to find that ‘primal scream’ is the first step. The second is learning to control the power. There are people in this world who feel genuinely marginalized because of many things, and our constant stream of news, entertainment, social media posts, and all the other noise drives them even further towards that notion of marginalization.
But many of them are willing to listen if we are willing to be more than just a blunt instrument. The Christ planted seeds, He did not badger. He was also a master of language and (for obvious reasons) had an understanding of the human condition far beyond any other human. It behooves those of us looking to walk against the grain of modern society to follow His example, and not simply argue for argument’s sake, but rather to listen, to genuinely have ears to hear, and frame our discourse with those who disagree from a standpoint of wanting to understand their thought processes, and merely have conversations with them, rather than attempt to vilify their opinions or even attempt to change their minds. Their minds are theirs, just as are their beliefs. Hammering them as nothing more than blunt instruments convinces no one of anything, and changing their minds really isn’t within the scope of our abilities anyway. What we can offer is a different perspective on their own notions of our own belief systems. I’m not talking about being ‘nice.’ I’m talking about being honest without the need to win the discussion. There is no prize for ‘winning’ an argument other than a dopamine rush.
People in the first world are terrified on all sides. Even if it is only intuited, most know that the systems that we have mistakenly depended on for so long are falling apart from within, and most have no idea where their place will be in the coming brave new world. A primal scream is needed to wake many from their slumber, but there is no need to scream in the face of those who disagree. The call of the wild will draw those who seek something better toward that call, and many will answer it and then fall away, lacking the strength to abandon the herd and follow the pack of loners willing to forgo the constant and debilitating comfort of our world in favor of reality. The strong have something of a responsibility to lead without ripping apart.
Even the wolf knows how to nurture.