“Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised or a little mistaken.”

-Jane Austen, Emma

Monday, January 6, 2014

Keeping the Divergent element alive in society and why being different is important

You might have died on the front line, member of the team, but did you really know what you fought for?

Where are the reasonable people?

These days, whether in the midst of, or as witness to the many discussions occurring online, in person, on the phone, or as seen in the daily MSNBC/Fox News/insert-other-network-here roundup, certain voices are being sidelined and silenced.

This isn’t a call to revolution just yet. Put the banners away people.

In fact, you probably wouldn't even know which particular people or group I refer to. You weren’t aware of them being discriminated and sidelined in the first place. Because while some of them do get noticed— the-march-to-the-beat-of-their-own-drummer folk—the Lawrence of Arabia’s and the Nelson Mandela’s of the world type, most of the people from this particular group will never attain worldly acclaim. It is hard to classify them, because they don’t belong under a true title, and therefore harder to address their problems—but it is necessary nonetheless, because these individuals are crucial. They are necessary for both society’s survival and continual edification.  I can’t categorize them. These folks are too different and un-box-able, and thus, will never fit. Their personalities are located too much in the the middle of the Venn diagram, rather than leaning toward one particular side. These individual are too complex.

So, just by nature of who they are, and because society usually doesn’t like to deal with individuals more akin to a cryptex from the Da Vinci Code, preferring the simplicity of a Disney Lizzy McGuire type, their breed goes unnoticed and over time sidelined. They are just too difficult to deal with. These individualists have no advocacy group or Super Pack to ensure financial security or lasting success though, which makes them all the more likely to become extinct. In fact, these folks left their ideological flags and mantras at home today, and because they did so—these people won’t be heard, or it will take a long time to notice them. They only shout when needs be. They are Divergent. They are independents.

Go home Joe Lieberman. No one wants you.

Didn’t anyone tell you? Purple is so not the color for 2014. It wasn’t for the year before either, or the year before for that for that matter…….

Who are these people then and why do we need them?

These people are a mixture of colors. These people agree with some of the social issues that their liberal-leaning friends espouse--#Bartlett4America2014. But, they also give kudos to their conservative contemporaries and colleagues as well. Sometimes the old guys really do get it right. But these “different” individuals are more of an endangered species in the 21st century than commonplace. And, even if perhaps there are more of these diversifying thinking types, than what currently there appear to be, for most of these sorts of individuals, their lives will be separate from others. They will remain so until becoming more comfortable in expressing themselves, gaining some acceptance and security from fellow peers.

The Divergent or “different” individual understands that no one group possess the entire truth—and one entity never will. Whether these entities I refer to are of a political nature, entertainment conglomerates, businesses, or government institutions makes no difference. Conformity and ideological assimilation occurs just as easily in Hollywood, D.C., or at the local PTA meeting as anywhere else. Groupthink is a mass problem, not solely reserved for either the exclusive or the common. When individuals only stick to the “pack” or adhere to the “group” mentality though, crucial progress for humanity becomes lost, because no one (or few did) took the road less traveled by—everyone took the common thoroughfare. Whoops. Farewell Michelangelo.

The only way to discover which portions of the “group” are correct and which are diseased or misinformed, is to perform your own research on the matter. Do your own digging—and not just a garden shovel full, but a real excavation. I mean Scully and Mulder really were onto something—“The truth is out there.” Key phrase: out there. You have to move— the truth is out there, it’s not found here (as you constantly refresh your Facebook feed). It means you have to actively search for it. You have to think about it. You have to analyze it. You have to put it into action. You have to play the devil’s advocate once in a while. You have to try the truth, and then try it again. Does it work?

 Indeed, the truth is out there—but it’s going to be a looonngg journey. And at times you are going to hate yourself—wishing you really would have chosen the blue pill, rather than the red. So pack up. Head for Mordor. Find out where the aliens abducted your sister to. Save Panem. Go find Private Ryan. And for Pete’s sake when you come back tell the rest of us what it is all about. So we can learn something too, and take our own roads less traveled by, using some of the lessons you learned.

Discovering truth requires sacrifice, alienation, and aching loneliness at times though. Hence, there is a reason why the majority of the populace hunker down into their comfortable ideologically-driven Lazy Boy chair—because it’s easy. There is no going out there to find it—and in subsequently doing so you produce nothing of significant worth. You just sit here. Here is a place where quoting the party line is always easier. Bashing someone everyone already bashes is safer. Loving someone everyone already loves is so much easier than loving someone everyone hates. Why do we hate them?  

Finding the truth is harder. Try it. You could win nothing and lose everything, but the opposite might also occur. And if no one recognizes your genius, or your bravery, or your differentness in this lifetime, maybe someone will make an epic Paramount Pictures movie about it in the future, saturated with the tracks from a John Williams-type, and staring—I don’t know someone. Or maybe from all of your errors, and mistakes, someone else can pick up where you left off—and head off on their own journey. At least we are getting closer now. Closer to fulfillment, closer to happiness, closer to something that is always better than—well this—stagnation. There are no guarantees on this journey though. People might build a Lincoln-esque Memorial to you, or one day skim your name down a list of ancestors while looking at genealogical records on FamilySearch.com.  

It doesn’t matter though.

And forgive me if I sound bleak, or harsh, but everyday whether it be in the political realm, religious, entertainment arena, or even when choosing the damn color for the sofa covers—someone has to take a specific side on the issue, and per typical, you not only have to choose now you need to have your decision go along with the crowd as well. You have to pick a team. You have to fit into the mold of from-wherever-you-were-born. You have to belong to a certain party and if you don’t—well, then, you lose.

Right now, you’re brave by society’s standards if you fight alongside your brethren, in following the leader, always remembering to look ahead into the future. Technological advancement has made us faster at choosing things, and more efficient in conducting our daily business, but it has also shortened our attention span, and made us more prone to mass homogeneity. Picking a team, because everyone else you know is on that one, or not thinking about anything because it requires too much thought isn’t bravery though—it’s blind conformity. You might have died on the frontlines, member of the team, but did you really know what you fought for?

Of course, we will all agree with, and belong to various groups throughout our individual lifetimes and this is how it should be. I am not heralding a call for anarchy. Abandon your post. The world is a lie. Throw yourself off a tower. We do need organizations. Organizational entities and factions, to a certain extent, are necessary for societal cohesion. But, when organizational goals become more important than valuing individual opinion and belief, and when celebrating diversity becomes more of a trite, politically infused statement, rather than an actual truism—society has a problem.

So, go out. Solve it.

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