From the early explorers, through the Pilgrims and other colonial settlers, through Thomas Jefferson, and right up to Michael Jackson, we've been a country of non-conformists, free thinkers and inventors. And every step of the way, our free spirits battled the conformists who would deny progress or new ideas.
The vast majority of people in every country, whether technologically advanced or starkly primitive, are conservative. Nah, I'm not talking about religion. I'm talking about their willingness to change their ideas. Overall, humans are not comfortable with change. We're mostly a sheepish culture who fight change tooth and toenail. (The actual expression is "tooth and nail"--see origin of expression here--but I grew up on the tooth and toenail version so, of course, I'm resistant to change!)
Yet those we admire most, either from the past or the present, are the non-conformists who marched to their own drummers, refusing to fit in the little boxes assigned to them. They were the ones who had a vision and went for it.
Few of us are courageous enough to stand out there on our own, living our lives as we truly wish because we're afraid of what family, friends, or neighbors might say. Peer pressure is alive and well all around the world. The free spirit is not welcome whether in the huts in Africa or the mansions in New York.
Our neighbors could be criminals, another race or religion, on welfare, have sixteen children... but all of those things pale beside the epithet of odd or different. No one wants to be thought odd or different. And it's strange that the words odd or different cover a multitude of realities from mental illness to shyness to being gay. No specific explanation is required. It's enough to say, "Well-ll, he's a little different." Or, "Let's just say that she's kinda odd."
Rather than be thought different or odd, the average human will go out of their way to fit in with the cultural norms. If everyone else is wearing mini-skirts, well by gum, they'll wear a mini-skirt, even if it's uncomfortable, unattractive, and possibly even borders on the obscene. Long hair, short hair, beards, mustaches, chest hair or smooth, glasses or none, we desperately try to fit in.
Well. This July 4th, I'm declaring my own Independence Day. I've decided that I'm going to do things my way, whether it's writing what I want to write, wearing what I find comfortable, or living life on my own terms. Life is too short to worry about whether someone else likes the color of your shoes.
How about you? Want to celebrate your independence with me? Name one thing about yourself you would like to "have your way". I'll pick one comment at random for a free copy of Surpassing Pleasures, my new release on July 3rd.