Rocking the Boat: The Plight of the Individual
Symmachy | Thinking Differently | Plight of the Individual
Incarcerated and positioned constantly on the periphery of life, the individual benefits from his own wisdom just long enough to be castigated and held-to for his presumption of thought. Why, when so many options lay ahead of him can he dare to stand up for an ideal? This is a survival guide for the individual thinker, running the railroad tracks into the dark holes of rejection and scorn before emerging into the bright sunlight of optimism and love.
It is said of any great, new truth; of any change of thought against the status-quo, that there will be three states of reaction from society. I will outline these here, including my personal experience on the kind of treatment you can expect to receive at each stage. It is worth outlining here the idea of a “meme” again. A meme is a a style of behaviour and recognised belief that percolates throughout society. It conditions how you react to a belief and the world. One of the greatest and most unquestioned meme’s in our society is the value in a debt based economy and the inherently flawed concepts of interest rates: exploiting the poor for the betterment of the rich.
1. Mocking Laughter
In this first stage your new opinion will be met with a mild sense of disbelief and laughter at the display 0f nerve they see in challenging anything outside of their field of understanding.
- Majority Standpoint and the Normalcy Bias
They snigger from the top of a complacent standpoint; that vested assumption in the accuracy of belief: the normalcy bias. This assumes that just because something hasn’t occurred in their lifetime and that they are not aware of something then it can’t possibly happen. “Well, I don’t know that” will often be a phrase used when imparting new information. They will humour you with an “oh, really?” and a feigned display of interest before setting you up as a straw man for the burning. They will shred away all that you stand for with mockery and ad-honimen attacks. The original feigned “interest” in your opinion will soon turn to a defence of their own belief or meme, using the majority standpoint as a basis for attack. You will often observe a lack of real care to debate about the topic because it is too difficult or too “unbelievable” to contemplate arguing about.
Failing to discourage your foolhardy venture into the realm of unsuitable conversation “original thought”, they will try to deride you through the use of stereotypes, conceptualisations and various other shortcuts to thinking. They will call you an idealist for your beliefs and philosophies, not knowing that it is not an idealism to assume that things should be better and that they really can and must improve, that this is merely an “improve-ism” if they wish to restrict thought to a stereotypical system. By coining you into a group they can organise you through the filter of their minds into a category that already has a preset response and is therefore easier to deal with. If you believe 9-11 was an inside job because you don’t believe the facts add up you are no longer a viable friend or fellow interlocutor but a “conspiracy theorist”, something which can be completely scorned and ignored.
If you are still holding to your opinions against the wall of disbelief, a mob-mentality of self-righteous anger will eventually develop through a wall of noise; scoffs, titters, sneers and snide comments, ruefully spat over the top of a pint of lager.
The first resort of a lack of understanding is the extension of tagging. Beyond idealism and beyond conspiracy nutcases they see you as a danger; something to be stopped at all costs and put back in its proper place. They will bandy harsh words with you, perhaps calling you an idiot for believing in it, trying, and generally failing, to look as though this is a matter of little importance to them. People don’t like you to rock the boat, it’s comfortable here and who can deny that ignorance really is bliss? Thought it seems, is both a blessing and a curse in disguise.
- Anecdotal Evidence
When righteous anger is no more use to the assault on the individual, someone not put out by harsh words, they will try to topple you from your unenviable position through the use of catch phrase answers; things that they have committed to memory, their silver bullet of derision, of unassuageable fact. This could be something as trite as “well the government wouldn’t lie to us would they? c’mon!” and can sway into the more nasty realms of accusation:
This occurs at the point of no return, where the debate has fully developed into an argument of persuasive intent on the one side and outright hostility on the other. They will blame you with insensitivity when you try to tell them that 9-11 could only be an inside job they’ll say you’re heartless to assume that any nation could do that to their people, that you are evil to assume that it could only be an inside job. They’ll sneer at you from behind a warm coterie and if at any point they notice that your intents are good and not nefarious they will use their final weapon:
- Held to Ransom
For every occasion that you did not fit the mould, for every slight imperfection they will hold you to ransom. For every
misdemeanour you have ever performed, any proclivity exposed rashly before your awakening you will be mocked and your theories held up to a microscope. If you talk of materialism they will use conceitful attacks, mentioning your clothes or the fact that you have a mobile phone, not recognising utility from flagrant consumerism. This is often the worst punishment levelled at the individual. You shine a light on your presumption of thought and “idealism” and you will pay for this in a persecution of personality. It is much easier for people to resort to the attack on you and your thoughts than it is to recognise the flaws in a system that pervades their every conscious action and moment of existence.
The rarity among group arguments and discussions but the inevitable among the aggregate masses, acceptance will and must come when a society is faced with an inescapable truth. It is my belief that we live through a series of firm beliefs in one “truism”, this is where a society starts of with a fairly acceptable belief in how the world is and then their acceptance of it turns into a tyrannical defence of it. I believe that epochs are merely the resistance to natural fluctuation and change, the place where meme’s grow on the mouldy cow shit of fettered belief and self-righteous faith in the system. When a society moves onwards they will always fluctuate towards those who have the loudest alternatives. Look at Hitler and the rise of Nazi Germany. How unattractive are his views to us now, but in the 30’s his appeal was almost unanimous, with over 90% of the people supporting his rise to power and the suppression of the Jewish population (if not their genocide). His voice was heard as that of change to a war-torn nation that was both emotionally and economically desperate and like sheep in need of a shepherd the masses follow. Just in this way, when our system crumbles under the weighty top of its success the masses will look for a new great shepherd…
No matter how much I try and believe that we can all think differently there will always be leaders and the led if we continue to stick to this system of mockery, anger and acceptance. Whenever you believe something ask yourself: Why do I believe what I believe. Most arguments seem to occur because people want to get their viewpoint through over and above the other persons. They may be beaten but the worst thing they can envision is losing the argument. They cannot let this happen, even if it means they may learn something of value for the short term. They resist change for as long as they feasibly can and very rarely do people go into the shadow of the unknown willingly or indeed humbly.
While it is hard for the individual is it not worth holding to your opinions in the long term? If more of us do this then surely there is hope for our world in change? John Stuart Mill says that “only but the free exchange of ideas can we avoid dead dogma” and I believe that castigation of the individual is a small price to pay for the betterment of humanities situation, unknown to the masses as a prison pen for thought, patrolled by the same individuals who are locked within its gates. It really is worth to cost – “Make the Myths”; think differently!
Symmachy – Keep Thinking Differently, Keep Fighting Together.